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Early Western Travels 

1 748-1 846 

Volume XXVII 

Early WesternTravels 
1748-1846 j 

A Scries of Annotated Reprints of some of the best] 
and rarest contcmpomry volumes of travel, de- 
scriptive of the Aborigines and Social and 
Economic Conditions in the Middle 
and Far West, during the Period 
of Early Anierican Settlement 

Kd)i4d with Noio, iDCroduOioni, lacki^ etc., bj 

Reuben Gold Thwaites, LL.D. 

JouTDali of the Lcwiikad Cl^iLKjcpldidMi," "Hunepin'* 

•■ •• *i ••■ 

Nc «' Hi 

»jitovcry," eic. 

■■ ■• .» r* • 
• V- ■ ■ ■ • ' • 

De Smn'i Lciien and Stcctchet, ■84i-i843 


ClevcJar;d, Ohio 

The Arthur H. Clark Company 


ConKIOHT 1906, IT 



10 1^4 


ConmioRT igo6, ftr 

* • a ' 

ppp «p -»_-*--■»■• •■■«,*^ hp 

p/«a .p 'p '. , m*J' »' • ■ ; • • 

A*P« •■ PPP**>* ■«*•« ■•*•' PA 

• *a««AA*p _**«••< •••,*• A 

*■ ■■ *'p pBp>-p*P« 

• • » •*• •• •• ••-■^•" » 

• I ■*■** •pp- ■ Ap** •• 

lOOl 24 

fflf tflfcolto pnu 

■. L DMAUXT • son con Am 




The Fae Vitsr; on, ATomi beyond the Moitntaivs. Em 
bnciog Outlines of Western Life aod Scenery; Sketches 
of ibc Praiiics Rivers, AndenI Mounds, Ejirlj ScfllemeDtN 
of the FrcQch, eU.. dr. (Chiptcn uuiil-xii of Vol. 11 
complctiDg tbc publication). Edmuttd Flagg 

Author's Table of Coinenis - . . . 

Text ..,,,•.. 


Iattkrs 4KD SKKTcaes: with a Narrative of a Vear'^ R«[ 
deuce among the Indian Tribes of ihe Rocky HountJiinfl 
PUm Jeun Jc Smei, 5. /- 

Auihor'n Prtfocc 


BOOK I: l>flen I-XII, Febniai^ 4-D«c«m 

Iter 30, 1841 

BOOK II: Namtire of a Vcar'a Residence 
amoni; the Indian Tribes of the Rocky 
Mountains (comprised in Lelt«r? XlII-XVl 
Augugt 15-Koveaiber r, 1849) . 
Explanation of tbe Indian Sj^mbolical Catechism 


i I 


From Dc- Smrt^ lOUfs 

'*A V\tw o\ Ihc Rocky MountJttnx. 

and Shicka 

AUcKorical sketch 

Facsimik of tUc p^g^ Dc SnMt'a iMUn aitd SktUMs 

"Worship JQ ihe Desen" 

"Kama WUge", 

" Imnior of a K&fua Lodge*' » . . . 


*' Devil's Gale" 

"Soda Springs" 

"Fording the River Plane" 

"Shrytrnnc Wairiois" -,->.. 
"Indian Mode of Travdling'" ... - 


"Indian Symbolical Catechism'*— folding plate 

Paat n OF Fugg's The Far West, 1836-1S37 

Reprint c^ chapters xxziii-zli of Volume II of origioAl edition: 
New Yoric, i8i& 



F . 




Bbicknc»i of DnrkiMss — Fall of sl Foretl-tree — A ftublim* Inci' 
dcnl — Mjajng) — A Moral — A Wolf — A McaJ — A Mis- 
Ukt — A brirfliiig Sun — The '' HHghlH of ChertCT "— A noble 
View— Ao Island — A ^*Bend"— A Slewnw — Chester — 
Site nod Anticipalions — A romnntic Pnlhway — Th* Syc^- 
raores — Thf UmJergrowih — Thi- BlutT^ — Fornt Quietude 

— The wlLd'griipe Vices — Site, Tonuosity, and TerLictty — 
A Julicl'bower —A Prediction ^Ka.skukia Bottom ^An 
rlcgvtl Farm xtvl Miitaian — The Ou«hoU50 — The Hju^^esi- 
fields and Groundg — The Bluf!s — The Village . , . 19 


Aatiqueness — A Proposition and CoroUary — "All is New" 

— Frcslincs* of NalurjU Scenery — The immigrant Inhabiunb 

— An Eiceplion — A serious Duty — A laudable Retolufion — 
A gay Btvy — A Hawser-ferry — A Scene on the Kaskciskia — 
"Old Kaski3ki<""StT\jcturcof Dwellings —Aspect of Anli- 
quity — A Contract —"City of the Pilgrims" — The Scenes of 
ft Century — Lane-like Streets — Old Customs — "The Paral- 
lel ce*3CS *'— The iamc Fact with the SpAJiiard* — The Cauk 
-—The Ffenfh Villagere — -The Inn-gaHery — A dvil Land' 
lord— The TabU d'Hdtt — A MooriLighi Ramble— The old 
Church — The Courthouse — The fwsb Laugh — Th« Kano 

— The B nineties 36 


The Explorers of the West — The French Jesuits — Cause of the 
Undertaking — The Tale of (he Hunters — Marquette and 
Juliet (viiij— Their Exploration — The Natives — The Uliui 

— A Village — Maniie of the Missouri — The Illinois — 
Amofcd Delight — Jolict's Narmiivc — Man^uctlc — Name 
to the River — Jolicl** Reward — Lap^cuf Ycais — M. Robert, 
Cavalier de la Salle — His Talent, Ambition, and Enteqi-rise — 
Visit to Canada — Success at PEiris — Tonii and Hennepin — 
Explor^ition — The HilnotA — An Indian Village — The Hoard 
of Cora — Peoria Lake — Ttcalmenr by the Natives —^ Loss of 
the Supply-bout —Fori "CVer* Caur'^— Its Site - "Spring 
Bay '*— The Indian War — D;uig« of La Salie — The Muliny 


Early Western Travels 


— Tbe Poison — Rrpiorarior of Ihe MiKsissippi — Th* Falls 

— Captivity — Ucnncpjn's Travels — Character of these early 
Wrilcts — "Fofl St. Lcjuis '* — SccoaJ Eipfdition of La S^Uc 

— The O^^gt — A Village t>f Natives — The Onbachi — Fort 
Pmdhofrtmt — Fonnal PoeseiEion — Lotiisi<iHtt — Ceremonies 
al the Gulf — River "St. Louis "—ViUagts fcmmW — Fate 
of La Snfle — RetHbijtive Justice^ Faie of Marquetle — 
Decease and Burial - - Canadian Colonies — 'I'heir Design -^ 
Mining Expeditions — M, Ut Scur — Disappointment — 
Cauri^rs rfi* hati — FrtUt Pay^nni — M«T^' Mortals — Origin 
of luLakflskia — Name — Depfll of Fur-trade — De Sole and 
the Tradition — His Death aod Burial — Origiiial Extent of 
Kaskuskia — Tte '^Common Field "—The Grant — PoHcy 
of French and Spanish Governments — "Common Fields" and 
"Commons" — Regulalions — | Congresvgrarts — Harmony 
with the Savages — The Cstise — Exaggeration — Eaxlv Peace 
and Prosperiiy — Jesuit College — Law's Scheme — The De- 
sign — Us iUinoia — The Failure — The "South Sea Bubble " 

— Prosperiiy of K-Bekaskia — Luxuriance of Agrjculturc — A 
chimerical Dcsijfr — Cession and Recession — An unwelcome 
Change — Removal and liur Causes . . - * - 


Portraiture of Chaiaeter — The Di&culty — The French VillaRer 
of the Mrasissippi — His ordinary Deportment — Hospitality 
^ Lawa and Courts — Scholastic Proficiency — Affairs of the 
Nnli©n— "A Burden! "—Their Virtues— The Helpmate— Re 
jlskw* I^lh — Festivals — Their Property — The Change — 
Thdr Avocations — Thetr Idiom — A Contrast — The Pecu- 
liarities — CoEtume — Amusemenia — Slaves — Early Govern 
ment — An unwelcome Change —"Improvement!"— A hateful 
pK] Teim — The Stram-^ngine — The old Edificei — The 
Street* — Advantages of the Change — The Cortrast — The 
poorer Claaa — Evils of the Change — Superior Enterprise • 


Delay on an intcresiinK Subject — Peculiarities of French and 
Spanish Villages similar — Social Intertourae — Old Legends 

— Dreamy Seclusion — CommerciaJ Advantages of fCaskaskia 

— The Tnule — The River - The Land offic* — Popdatioa 

— Fort Gage — Clarke's Expe^lilion — The Catholic Churth — 
Erection — Its Jvcterior — The Interior — The Altar-tamp 

— Structure of the Roof — Surprise of the Villagers — Interdict 
on the Archiicci— The Belfry— The Bell — View from the 
ToKW — The Churchyard — The ftrst Record — Old Chroni- 
cle* — The Nunnery — The Seminary — Departure from Kiis- 
lEA^kia — Fuma of the French — A Reminiscence — ^' Indian 


Fiagg's Far fftjt 


OW Poant *'^ Extcrmintttion c>£ the Nomcisffwodo — Details 

— The Obelisk to Falhci Riilc — Route lo Ffairit du Ranker 

— Auhurkan ^VtoiusAort of wild Fruit — NuIb — Gwipea — 
A Wine Stoiy — Mode oJ Manufaclurt — The Clifls of Arwit 
du HtKker-^ '^Comman Field "— Productions — The Sayou 

— A Scene of Blood — A Century Sltimber — Peculiahtics — 
View from (he Cliffs— Pclrifaclions — Simplicity and Igno- 
rance — ChAiiwIcristici of the FreiiLh Villager ~ The Caiholk 
Church — Unhealihy Site — Caujte ot a PhCDomenon . - 59 


The Western Valley — Early Conception of its Extent inndequate 

— The Frtorh Oyrdtm of Fonitjcation ^ Origin of the Policy — 
Stations of Posts ereaed — Fon Chaitres — Grove* of wild 
Fniit — The Dork -browed Villttser — Hi* direction to the 
Ruiiu — Desertion and Drennncw of the $wA — Solemn 
Effect of the old ?\h in the Forest — C^up d'trtl — Th# Mis- 
siaaippi Shugh — Erection of Fort Chttrtrrs — The Design — 
Expense — Maierial — RebuiUiiug — ViUngc Cevsion, Reces- 
sion, and the Resull6 — Seal of Power — Form and Extent — 
Prcs*T%'atLon of the Mfkfoiiry — Frcnth Eni^nccrinK — Original 
StruLlure uf ihe Fortress — The Priile of iu Prime — Its Scenes 

— The '• GoJden Age "— The 'old R^identm "— The Pomp 
ofWar — AShdlcr for thc>fight - , , . . 7J 

[ij XXXIX 

Fort Charms — A romantic Scene — Legoidary Lore — Erec- 
tion of Fort Chirtres — Enormous ExpendHure — Needless 
Strength — The Engineer — Hi* Fate — The 'Buried Trea^- 
urr " — The Money -dipgers — Their Sucrets — The " Western 
Hannibal " — Eitpedition againM Vincennes — Capture of the 
French VUla^o — Siege of Fort Chaitres — A soctcssful Ruse 
du Gjaare — A Strap nf Hisloiy — The Capture of Fort Vin- 
cent — The Straingew — Fort Du Quesne — Eredion and 
HialOfy — Ufidcst Strength — A Morning Scene — Philippe 
Francis Renault — Hia Mining Operations — The Village St, 
Philippe — The Cottonwood Forest — The Mississipi^ I — A 
Mistake^ A weary Plod — An Atmo^heie of Pestilence — 
Causes of Di»eAW — SAlutin'ousSltefor a Cabin — PrcraulJons 
(or the Emigrant — DiBcafes of the West — Fevers — Sicltly 
Months— "Milk Sickness"— Its Cause and Eflccu — Fever 
and Ague — An i-*cape — A sidt Fujuily — The Ciitisumptive 

— Refreshment — An early Settler . - , ,,45 


The "Squatttt" — His Character and Person — A View from 
the Bluff* — The ancient Indian Village — Reliqucs — The 


Early Western Travels 

[Vol 37 

Sqtuii«T'i Reflections — Hl& Waaderingi — A DiKoverj — 
The Umi-e of a Chid — ITic Ancient Bimal f^rounds — Hu* 
mail RrrrifliiLn — A Coffin of Stone — The " PiHrny Rare "— 
AQlnvestLgBtion — Ancicni Potipr^'— Thr Turug —Tht Sink^ 
W« — Watcrioo — lis Windmin and Coiirthoujc — Bellc- 
fcmt»ine — An rvming Ritk — '* Hail ColtjmliiaP' — An tminar- 
iai NAn» — A very poor Pan — A miserable Ni^t — A pleu- 
&n1 D&wn — The American Bottom -Its Name — Exl^t 

— BouoUiuie* — Bluffs — t>ku, llwif C^axm ajid Cowie- 
quence — Disease an ObiUd* lo Settlenw^t — The Remedy 

— The Grand A#*irau — The Soil — Its Fertility - The 
Appropriate Produaion » 97 

The Amerinin Bottom — Its aUuviml ChAracter — An interest- 
ing Query — The Ancieni L«lte — The Southern JJmil — 
The Parapet of Stone — Alluviit Action on the Cliffs — A 
similu" Expansion — The Ej\&tern Limit ind the Western — 
The "MnmcUc [xi] Priiiie '*— EteTation of Country North 

— Cause of the Drarning — The KnrVs ar " Oranil Tower '•— 
Abrasion of Waters — Volcanic Action — A Tide spring — 
The ''Blockhouse'^— Geology of the Region — Volcanic 
Convut*«ioris — ImjjrtHs of *)nimi>olence — Reflerlion^ sug- 
ge«1ed — iKaorance and Indiacrcnce on the Subject — K*- 
marlu of Dr. Buckland and Cuvicr^A very t^ntUni Revolu- 
tion — Huge Rrmain«i ~ Theory of Cuvier — Productions of 
the Americin Bottom — Th? Fiirms — Prairie^ flower? — 
Mounds — Prttifu dn P&nt — RefrcsbmcnE — A novel Churn 

— A Hisagrccahlr Vilhige — CntuiHa — The Indian Tribe — 
Thfl Settlement — The Mississippi — The Creek — Harmoni- 
otti Itilcrcourse — A Contrast— Early Inhabitants of Cabokit 
"Peculiarities of the Village — The ^Xommon Field"— 
Grant of Congresa — Cahoicia at [he present Time — Route 
to St. IpOuis — Sunset on the Water — View of the Gty — 
Moonlight— Airival at St, Loub — A Farewell! , , - loft 


[PART 11] 


" Srijuiott, if dtou but leun'd ■ tmlh which ntt^M 
Eipvrlencv morv (JiLa [tuuo. that ihr vorld 
Ii Full oF gulU uul ml9Ery» and hast kaoTn 
^^■■>'^ <if ^ iU K>m«*, cfimM. and catm 
1^ tin tlicc of it; ttaxst tbu wjld «roodi 
And vtPtt the hauDti of NiJnn." 

Thb moon had gone down; the last sUr had burned 
out in ibe finnameatj and that deep darkness whidi 
precedes the dawn was brooding over ihe earth as the 
traveller turned away from the little inn at the village oi 
Pinkneyvillc. Fortunately he had, the previous evening, 
while survej'ing the tace of the rt^on from the door of 
the hostelrie, gained some general idea of the route to 
[t2;j Kaakaskia; and no^, dropping the reins upon his 
horsc'5 neck, he began floundering along through a 
blackness of darkness perfectly Cimmerian. It was, 
indeed, a ft'ooniy night- The early mists were rising, 
damp and chiU. from the soil saturated with the showers 
of the preceding day; and the darkne^ had become of 
a density almost palpable to the sense. Crossing a nar- 
row arm of the prairie in the direction presumed to be 
correct, my horse carried mc into a dense wood, and, if 
poasihiej the darkness increased. I had penetrated some 

' VdutRC crrU of our acricv bci^iu wiLb di^pier xuUI of the on^jul Kcv 
Yorfc edition {1^2^) of FUbb's Tht Far Wta. Thf «mhOT \a faov dot^ribiitd 
Ui« ptrtof his joumer nta4e m tbe Ube *^unni«r or arljr kutunuof iSj6- — £l>< 


Fiagg's Far WfU 


mQcs inlo ihe h^art of the forest, and was advancing 
doviy tipon my way, when my attention wis suddenly 
arrested by a low, wtuspcriog, rustling sound in the 
dqiths of the wood at my right; this gmdualty incrcm9> 
ingj wa-i almost inimrdiatHy succeeded by a crashing, 
thundering, rushing report, till every echo far and wide 
in thai dark oid wood was wakened, and the whole forest 
for miles around resounded with the roar. My horse, 
ivrri^ed at the noise, leaped and plunged like a mad 
creature- An enormous forest-tree had fallen within 
a do«n rods of the spot on which I stood. As I left 
the nobk ruin and resumed my lonely way, my mind 
brooded over the event, and I thought I could perceive in 
the occuiTtDce a powerful feature of the sublime. The 
fall of an aged tree in the noiseless lapse of time is e%'cr 
an event not unworthy of notice; but, at a momeni like 
this, it was surely so in an eminent degree. Ages since 
— k>ng ere the first white man had pressed the soil of 
this U^estem w^rld, and while the untamed denizens of 
the wilderness (laS] roamed in the freedom of primi- 
tive creation — ages since had seen the germe o( that 
mighty tree lifting up its young, green leaf from the sod, 
beneath the genial warmth of the sunlight and the summer 
wind. An age passed away. The tender stem had reand 
itself into a gigantic pillar, and proudly tossed its green 
head amid the upper skies: that young leaf, expanded and 
developed^ had spread itself abroad, until, at length, Ihe 
beasts of the earth had sought out its shade, and the tree 
stood up the monarch .of the forest. Another age is gone, 
and the hoary moss of time is flaunting to the winds from 
its venerable branches- Long ago Ihe thunderbolt had 
consecrated its lofty top with the baptismal of 5re, and, sere 
and rifted, the storm-cloud now sings through its naked 
limbs. Like an aged man» its head is bleached with 

iS3i^'t837! Earfy WaUm Travf/j 2i 

years, while the strength and verdure of ripened maturity 
yet girdle its trunk. But the worm is at the root: rotten* 
ncss at the heart is doing its work< Its day and its hour 
are appointed, and their bounds tt may not pass. That 
hour» that moment U come! aJid in the deep, pulseless 
stillness of the night-time, when slumher falleth upon 
man and Nature pauses tn her working, the oSspring 
of centuries is laid low. and bows himself along the earth. 
Yet another age is gone; but the traveller comes not to 
muse over the relics of the once-glorious rxiin. Long 
ago has each been mouldering away, and their dust has 
mingled with the common mother of us alt. Ah! there 
is a moroi in Ihe falling of an aged tree! 

[1^9] I was dwelling with rather melancholy reflections 
upon this casual occurrence, when a quick panting close 
at my side attracttil my attention; a large, gaunt- looking 
prairie-wolf had just turned on his hed and was trotting 
off into the shade. The gray dawn had now begun to 
flicker along the sky, and, crossing & beautiful prairie 
and grove, I found myself at the pleasant farmhouse of a 
settler of some twenty or thirty years' standing; and dis- 
mounting, after a ride of eighteen miles, I partook, with 
little reluctance or ceremony, of an early breakfast. Thus 
much for the night cdventurts of a travelkr in the woods 
and wilds of IllinoisI My host, the old gentleman to 
whom I have referred, very sagely mistook his guest for 
a phyiucian, owing to a peculiarly convenient structure 
of those indispensables ycleped saddle-bags; and was 
just about consulting his fancied man o( medicines re- 
specting the ailings of his "woman," who was reclining 
on a bed, when, to his admiration, he was undeceived. 

Passing through an inconsiderable village on the 
north side of the Little Vermillion called Georgetown, 
my route l«y through an extended range of hills and 


Earfy IFesttm Travels 


barrens.^ Among the former were some most intolerably 
tnlkms, especially to a horseman beneath a broiling sun, 
who had passed a sleepless night : but the si^eep of scenery 
from their summits was beautiful iind extensive. At 
length the traveller stood upon the " heights of Chester," 
and the broad Missis-'uppi was rolling od its (urbid floods 
a hundred yards beneath. The view is here a noble 
[130] one. not unlike that from the Alton or Grafton 
bluffs at the other extremity of the '* American Boltom^" 
thou^ less extensive. Directly at the feet of the specta* 
tor, scattered along a low, narrow interval, lies the \illage 
of Chester. Upon the opposite bank the forest rolls 
away to the horiEDn in unbroken magnificence, excepting 
that here and there alon;; the bottom the hand of cultiva- 
tion is betrayed by the dark luxuriance of waving maize- 
fields. A beautiful island, with lofty trees and green 
smiling meaduws, stretches itself along in the middle 
6f the stream before the town, adding not a Kttle to the 
picturesquencss of the scene, and. in all probability, 
d("stined to add something more (o the future im* 
portance of the place. To the rights at a short distance, 
come in the soft-flowing waters of the Ka^kaskii through 
deeply-wooded banks; and nearly in the same direction 
winds away the mirror-surface of the Mississippi for twenty 
miles, to accomplish a direct passage of but four, an occur- 

■The Vsnilian Rjivr (vhlth Fbgg iDcurrfcLly 'drrote \Axi\e V^fmillon) run. 
vrilb cc^rDl brahdiu, in the wcslern and southern portions of Lb Salic Countfi 
ftad Qo*r« oortb aoJ vreitp cnldliitj lUioau Rtvei ^t Rock U^nd, in Livlnnstoo 

SteelnviUc (form<irl<r Gforgetowo) 11 about fiiteeo milfs eut of E-aakMlcia, an 
tlic rofrl btLw«ii PiiikDcyvilk djlJ Clinter. the site ir&3 Kttlcd ua by George 
StHlc Jn iSto. A blortc-hciusf fort envt^ ihprv in i^ii protecrpd Ihp «ITtpn 
i^bsC iklUclu from iWc Kidcapo-J lodiaris. In iSt; u tttAd talW wm built, 
And two j'caia U^ci a etL>Lv and pu»t-ol^cc »cre crated. The lalLcr wb9 Eumed 
Sutfl^'a Mill3 Th# 4ipit]pii«aT vr» origiruily calltd GnrgrFatf n and larer chAagrd 
bf U BCt of flUie ttgislaturv to SteeleviLlc> belog survvj^ jfi 1834^ — Ed- 



Fiag^s Fisr tVfst 


rente by no means tmusual in its course. As I stood gaz- 
iqnn the scene, a steamer appeared sw*eeping around 
'tiic bend^ and, puf&ng \^\y along with the current past 
the town, soon disappeared in the di.Hbuice. From the 
heights an exceedingly precipitous pathway leads down 
lo the village, Chester is one of the new places of Illinois, 
and, of course, can boast but little to interest the stranger 
apart from the highly scenic beauty of its situation-' It 
has been mostly erected within the few years past; and, 
for its tztent, is a flourishing business place. Its land^ 
ing is excellent, tocalion healthy. [131] adjacent region 
fertile, and, for aught I know to the contrary, may, in 
course of years, rival even the far-famed Alton. Its 
landing, I was informed, is the only one for many miles 
upon the river, above or below» suitable for a place of 
extensive commerce. 

From Chester, in a direction not far from north, a narrow 
pathway winds along bcnealh the blufTs, among (he (all 
cane-brakes of the bottom. Leaving the Mississippi at 
the mouth of the Kaskaskia, it runs along the low banks 
of the latter stream, and begins to assume an aspect truly 
deli^tful. Upon either side rise the shafts of enormous 
sycamores to the altitude of an hundred feet, and then, 
flinging abroad and interlacing their long branches, form 
a living arch of exquisite beauty, stretching away in un- 
broken luxuriance for milirs. Beneath springs from the rich 
loam a dense undergrowth of canes; a profusion of wild 
vines and bushes clustering with fruit serving effectually 
lo exclude the sunbeams, except a few checkered spots 
bere and there playing upon the foliage, while at inter- 

'CbEslpr Is OD ihp Mivoanip^l RJyu. \t% R.Andnlph County. Just hrlnw the 
mcuth of KathJtItia Rivet, la th* lurnmcr ol lAao, SimuFl Smith biuli tbe 
fi;*l hiolut ihnci and l"o i^tia lilcr h.t> tojtdber with Uaihtr, Lunb and Com- 
pjuiy, plntltd ihr lann sJtp, Ii wu namfd tiy Juip Smith from ha nilJvc roim, 
Q«t*r, KngUifid. and hP9 modtf the »7Jit of juatice iat R:kntl:itph Iq iH^H^ — KD- 

val5 through the dark vtrdure is cai^ht the ilashing sheen 
of the moving waters. Upon the right, at the distance oi 
only a few yards, go up the bluffs to the sheer height 
of some hundred feet, densely clothed with woods. Th« 
path, though exceedingly narrow and scq>cnline, is for 
the most pan a bard-lroddcn, smooth, and excellent one 
when diy. The coolness &nd fragrance of these deep, 
old. shadowy woodlands has always (or roc a resistless 
charm. There is so much of quiet seclusion from the 
feverish turmoil of ordinary life within [1^7] their peace- 
ful avcnue^s that, to one not wedded to the world, they arc 
ever inexpressibly grateful. 

'"Th^ dim fthade 
Sh«]l faring * kiniJred ctim. «Dd the swm bnme, 
Tlul nuke* the grtcn lava da4icc4 shall viatl n balm 
To thj- dck heul. Thou wilt find mithlng here 
Of all thai pbfi'd LhH >[i th< luunu of men. 
Add attidt itv: bathe thy life/' 

In the wild, fierce glaring of a summer noontide, when 
amid '' the haunts of men'' all Is parched up, and dust; 
and scathed, how refreshingly cool are the still depths < 
the forest I The clear crystal streamlet gushes forth wi' 
perennial laughter from the rock, seeming to exult 
ita happy existence; the bright enamelled mosses of a c 
tury creep along the gnfiricd old roots, and life in all 
(airy forms trips forth to greet the eremite heart and chs 
it from the world- But there was one feature of the & 
through which I was pas^ng that struck mc aa ) 
liarly imposing, and to which I have not yet reft 
I allude to the enormous, almost preternatural magn 
of the wild-grape vine, and its tortuosity. I have morej 
once, in the course of my wanderings, remarked ihe 
liarities of these vast para^Ces; but such is the um 
fertility, and the depth of soil of the Kaskaskia t 
that vegetation of every kind there attains a size ar 


Fiagg'j Far IVtu 


portion elsewhere almost unknown. Six or seven of these 
vast vegetable serpents are usually beheW leaping forth 
with a broad whirl from the mould at the nxit of 3 tree, 
and then, writhing, and twining, and twisting [1,13] among 
themselves into all imaginable (onns, at length away they 
start, all at once and togrthcr, in diSrrent dtmrtions for 
the summit, around which they imniedialely clasp their 
bodies, one over the other, and swing depending in (cs* 
toons on every side. Some of these vines, when old and 
dried up by the elements, are amazingly stn>ng ; more so, 
perhaps, than a hempen hawser of the same diameter. 

Having but a short ride before me the evening I left 
Chester, I alighted from my horse, and icisurefy strolled 
along through this beautiful bower I have been attempt* 
ing to describe. What a charming spot, thought I. for a 
Romeo and Juliet ! — pardon my roving fancy, sober reader 
— but really, with all my own sobriety, I could not but 
imagine this a delightful scene for a "Meet me by moon- 
light alone," or any other improper thing of the kind, 
whether or not a trip to Gretna Green subsequently en- 
sued- And if, in coming years, when the little city of 
Chester shall have become all that it cow seems to promts^ 
and the venerable Kaskaskia, having cast her slough, hav- 
ing rejuvenated her withered energies, and recalled the 
days of her pristine trodiU&nary glory; if then, I say, the 
young men and maidens make not this the consecrated 
spot of the long summer-evening ramble and the trysting- 
place of the heart, reader, believe us not; in the dignified 
parlance of the €<>rps editoriat, believe us not. 

Some portions of the Kaskaskia bottom have formerly, 
at different times, been cleared and cultivated, but nothing 
now remains but the ruins of [134] tenements to acquaint 
one with the circumstance. The spot must have been ex- 
ceedingly unhealthy in its wild state. There is, however. 


Early fVestem Tratch 

[Vol a: 

one bcautifal and extensive fann under high cultivation 
nrjirly opposite Ka^skaskia, which no traveller can fail to 

obsL^rvc and admiav It is the residence of Colonel M , 

a French gtntleman of wealth, who has done everything 
a cultivated taste could dictate to render it a delightful 
spol* A fine, airy farmhouse !^nds bcnrath the blufls, 
built after the French style, with heavy roof, broad bal- 
conies, and with a rare luxury in this region ~ green Ve- 
netian blinds. The outhouses, most of them substantially 
constructed of stt^ne, are suqjassed io beauty and extent 
only by the residence itself. Fields yellow with golden 
harvest, orchards loaded with fruit, and groves, and parks, 
and pastures sprinkled with grazing cattle, spread out 
themselves on every side. In the back-ground rise the 
wooded bluffs, gracefully rounded to their summits^ while 
io front roaniis the gentle Kaskaakia, beyond which, peace- 
fully reposing in the sunlight, lay the place o( my des- 
Kaslwkia, lU. 



"FrotwwJ l>y tb* divinity xhry mlotpil, mppijrwd by tht rartb which ih«f 
ci^tivatBdr Kod It pc4« mith livmiKLi/vSk the^ cnjoytd th« kw«u cd Uk without 
drtAdJog or dctlflog diuotiilion."— Noma I\3urtuu9- 

*' h pleulot land at ^xtiwxf bt&d \\ wu. 
Of drMDu fbat wave bcTon the ball-fthut eye," 

In a country like our own, where everything is fresh and 
recent, and where nothing has yet been swept by the mel- 
lowing touch of departed lime, any object which can lay 
but the most indifferent claim to antiquity fails not to be 
hailed with delighted attention, *'You have," say they 

* Fla^ U probably relernng lo Cobofil f jaire Menaid. Ste our volume nvl, 

p, i05i iK>te i[4. — Cd> 


Flagg's Far PFm 


of the other hemUpherc/' no ivy-mantled towers; nomosa- 
grown, castellated ruins; no donjon-kccps rearing in dark 
sublimity tlieir massive walls and age^blcafhcd baitlemcnts; 
nothing to span the mighty chasm of bygone years, and to 
lead down the fancy into the shadowy realms of the post; 
and, therefore your country is stcril in moral interest,"' 
Now, though this ctjrdlary isundoubtcdly false, I yet helievc 
the propositioD in the main to be inte: especially is this 
the case with regard to that region which hes west of the 
Alleghany range. Little as there may be in the elder sec- 
tions uf our Atlaatic states to demand veneration for the 
past, no sooner does the traveller find himself gliding along 
the ^very wave [136] of the '* beautiful river/' than at the 
sane moment he find* himself forsaking ail that the fairy 
creations of genius have ever consecrated, or the roll of 
the historian chronicled for coming time. All is new. 
The very soil on which he treads, fertile beyond comparison, 
and festering beneath the undisturbed vegetation of cen- 
turies; the rolling forests, bright, luxuriant, gorgeous as on 
the dawn of creation; the endless streams pouring onward 
in their fresh magnificence lo the ocean, all seem new. 
The inhabitants are emigrants late from other lands, and 
every operation of human skill on which the eye may rest 
betrays a recent origin. There is but a single exception 
to these remarks — those mysterious monummts of a 
race whom we know not of ! 

In consideration, therefore, of the circumslanee that 
antiquities in this blessed land of ours arc, indeed, very 
few and far between^ I deem it the serious duty of every 
traveller, be he virtuoso or be he not, whenever once 90 
happy as to lay his grasp upon an antique ^^in any form, 
in any shape,'' just to hold fast lo the best of his abilit}-! 
Such, reader, be it known, wa.* my own praiseworthy deter- 
mination when drawing nigh to the eastern shore of the 


Earfy Western Travels 


stream oppoBite the ancient French village Kankaskta. 
Ilic sun was going down, and as I appfx>ached the sandy 
edge of the 3ca green water, a gay \K\y of young folks 
were whirling the long, narrow, skiff-likc ferry-boat like a 
bird across the str^^m, by means of a hawser to which it 
vra£ attached, and which oxtended from shore to shore. In 
my own turn I stepped into the boat, and in a few moments 
the oki French [137] negro had forced it half across the 
river, at this spot about three or four hundred yards tn 
width. For one who has ever visited Kaskaskia in the 
last beautiful days of summer, a pen like my own need 
hardly be employed to delineate the lovtrline^ of the scene 
whkb now opened upon the view. For miles the gleamy 
suiiace of the gentle Kaskaskia might be seen retreating 
from the e>'c, till lost at length in its windings through the 
forests of its bankjs, resting Iheir drep shadows on the stream 
tn all the calm magnificence of inanimate nature. The 
ahore 1 was leaving iwcUed gracefully up from the water's 
edge, clothed in forests until it reached the bluffs, which 
towered abrupt and loftily; while here and there along the 
landscape the low roof of a log cabin could be caught peep- 
ing forth from the dark shrubbery. The bank of the stream 
I was approaching predated an aspect entirely the reverse; 
less lovely, but more picturesfjue. A low sandy bcadi 
stretched itself more than a mile along the river, destitute 
of trees, and rounding itself gently away into a broad 
green plain. Upon this plain — a portion of the American 
Bottom — at the duftance of a few hundred yards from 
the water, is situated all that now remains of "old Kas- 
kaskia." From the centre rises a tall Gothic apire^ hoary 
with time, surmounted by an iron croiw; and around this 
nucleus are clustered irrcji^larly^ at various intervals, the 
hcavy^roofcdt time-stained cottages of the French inhabit- 
ants. These hou^s are usually like those of the West 



Flagg's Far h^eii 


India planters — bul a single story in beigbt — and the 
surface which ihey occupy Ut [138] of course, in the larger 
class, propoTtionably increased. They &tc constructed, 
some of rough limestone, some of timber, framed m cveiy 
variety of position — horizontal^ perpendicular, oblique, 
or all united — thus retaining their shape till they rot to 
the ground, with the interstices atutfcd with the fragments 
of stone, and the extemal suriace stuccoed with mortar; 
others — a few only — are framed, boarded^ etc., in modem 
style. Nearly all have galleries in front, some of them 
spacious, running around the whole building, and all have 
garden^plats enclosed by stone walls or stoccade^. Some 
of these curious-looking structures are old, having bided 
the storm winds of more than a ccDluiy- It is this circum- 
stance which throws over the place that antiquated, ven- 
erable aspect to which I have alluded, and which equally 
applies to all the other villages of this peculiar people I 
have yet spoken of. The city of Philadelphia and this 
Delected village of Kasltaakia are, as regards age, the same 
to a year;' hut while every object which, in the one, meets 
the eye, looks fresh as if but yesterday touched by the last 
chiselling of the architect, in the latter the thoughts arc 
carried back at least to Noah's ark! Two centuries have 
rolled by since the "city of the Pilgrims" ceased to be a 
"cornfield;" but where will you now look for a solitary 
relic of that olden time? ^^State-strect," the scene where 
American blood was &rst poural out by British soldiery; 

*PfaiUdclp^ vu foundH in i68j. Th«» bu been much dlinuBioa 4bout 
ibc cud d4U of thx faundin^ of *>^*fcM^^* E- C !kIuoa vu of the opinion 
thai tbi* ufLCerUintv bul inaen tn the cortloLindJAg of KukftiklJi with ac drlicf 
Imttan Kllkturnl of the ^xme lunu od (he Iltirvoii Rirfr. Ii »ocau pmb«^lc 
llwt Kukukin ua tbr ^Ll^UHippi was uUft^ in i&go< ComulL E, G. Mutq, 
■nd it! Fiiish Kri-trdi/' in Afrjjpi«Hi« oj jInffifOH id*turry {New 
Vocfct ififli), vi, pp. ifri'tSj. And Cftaptm Jnfm lUiinnM Hutary {Chkasi>, 19^1); 
dbo C. W, Alttnil, Tht Old Kaikuikut BesitriU (ClJugu Hijd^rlcjiL Srcicly. 1906), 
Sm aIki A' Mirluiu'* TnvtU, in our vohme ili^ p. fig, note 'Ji-^ Kd. 

"OH Comhill;" the ate of ihe "Liberty-tree;" and the 
whArf from whidi the tea was poured into the dock, are 
indeed pointed out to you as spots memorable [139] in 
the history of the **I-x^gucr of Boston; '* and yonder frowcs 
the proud height of Bunker's lUU; ihrrr lay the Britiah 
battleships, and there was " burning Charlcstown: '' but, 
with almost the solitary cxcqjtion of the "Old South" 
Church, with the cannon-ball imbedded in its tower, where 
shall we look for an object around which our associations 
may cluster? This is not the case with these old villages. 
A century has looked down upon the same objects, in the 
same situations and under the same relations, with a change 
scarcely appreciable. Yon aged church-tower has thrown 
its venerable shadow alike over the Indian <orn-dance, 
the rude coiillon of the French villager, the Spanish jan- 
dango, the Virginia reelj and the Yankee fr^k. Thus, 
then, when I speak of these places with reference to an- 
tiquity, I refer not so much to the actual lapse of years as 
to the present aspect and age of the individual objects. 
In this view there are few spots in our country which may 
lay more undisputed claim to antiquity than these early 
French settlements in the Western Vallej-. 

There is one feature of these little villages to which I 
have not at this time alluded, but which is equally amus- 
ing and characteristic, and which never fails to arrest the 
stranger's observation. I refer to the narrowness of those 
avenues intended for streets. It is no very strange thing 
that in aged Paris structure should be piled upon structure 
on cither side even to the clouds, while hardly a footpath 
exists between; but that in this vast Western world a cus- 
tom, in all respects the same, should have prevailed, [140] 
surpasseth understanding. This must have resulted not 
surely from lack of tibow-rooni, but from the marvellous 
sociality of the race, or from that attachment to the cus- 


F/agg'j Far H^eit 


toms of their ovm fatherland which the Frenchman ever 
betrays. In agriculture and the mechanic arts they arc 
now aboLt as well skill«l, notwithstanding; the imjirove- 
ments which they must perceive have been going on around 
them, as on the day their fathers first planted foot on this 
broad land. The same implements of husbandry and 
the arts which a century since were seen in France^ are 
now seen here; the very vehicle ihey drive is the vineyard- 
car, which is prtscnttxl us in representations of rustic 
life in the older provinces of the same land. The same 
characteristics of feeling and action are here displayed 
as there, and the Gallic tongue is sacredly transmitted from 
father to sotL But here the parallel cca^!^ We can 
trace but !itde resemblano.* between the staid^ simple- 
hearted French villager of the Mississippi Valley, and the 
gay> frivolous, dissolute cotemporary of the fifteenth Louis; 
still less to the countryman of a Marat or a Robespierre, 
rocked upon the bloody billow of the "Reign of Terror;" 
and less than either to the high minded, polished French- 
man of the nineteenth centur>'. The same fact has been 
remarked of the Spanish population of Florida and Mexico; 
their resemblance to their ancestors, who have been slum- 
bering for more than three centuriei? in their graves, is far 
more striking than to their present brethren of "Old Castile-" 
The cause of this is not difficult to detect. The customs, 
the [141] manners, the very idioms of nations never re- 
main for any considerable period of time invariably the 
same; other men, other times, other circumstances, when 
assisted by civil or religious revolutions^ produce surprising 
changes in the parent land, while the scanty colony, sepa- 
rated by mountains and scas^ not more from the roar and 
commotion than from the intluenced sphere of these events, 
slumbers quietly on from century to century, handing down 
from father to son those peculiarities, unaltered, which 


Early fVejUm Travels 

(Vq!. 17 

migrated with them. Climate, soil, location, though far 
from cxfluMve, arc by no means inronsiderable agents 
in affecting chamcler in all its relations of intellect, tem- 
perament, and phyacal feature. And thus has it chanced 
that wc now look upon a race of men separated but a few 
centuries from the parent stock, yet exhibiting character- 
istics in which there are few trails common to both. 

It was through one of those long, narrow, lane-tike 
streets to which I have alluded, and^ withal, a most un- 
coDScionably filthy one, that I rode from the landing of 
the ferry lo the inn. The low-roofed, broad-galleried 
cottages on either side seemed well stocked with a race 
of dark-eyed, dark-hab^, swarthy-looking people, all, 
from the least unto the tallest, luxuriating in the mellow 
atmosphere of evening; all, as if by the same right, staring 
most unceremoniously at the stranger; and all apparently 
summing up, but in the uncouthest style imaginable, their 
divers surmises resp>ecting his country^ lineage, occupa- 
tion, etc-, etc. The forms and features of these French 
villagers arc perfectly unique, at least in our [142] coun- 
try, and one can hardly fail distinguishing them at first 
»ght c^'cn among a crowd, once having seen them. 
Their peculiarities are far more striking than those of our 
German or Irish population, A few well-dressed, gerUeel 
gentlemen were lounging about the piazza of the inn as 
I drew nigh, and a polite landlord, courteously pressing 
forward, held the stimip of the traveller and requested 
him to alight. Something of a contrast, this, lo the atten- 
tion a stranger ustiaUy is blessed with from not more than 
nine tenths of the worthy publicans of Illinois. Alas! for 
the aristocracy of (he nineteenth century! But nHmporie 
With the easy air of gentilily and taste which seemed t' 
po^'ade the inn at Kaskaskia in all its departments, fe 
could have failed to be pleased^ For myself, I was a' 


Flcggs Far iVtst 


surprised. Everything about the esuhlishment was in 
the French style, and here was spread the handsomcsl 
tokAt d'Mu it hiu< be^n my fortune to wilnrw in Illinois. 
The moon was pouring gloriously down in misty mel- 
lowness upon the low^roofed tenements of this antiquated 
village, when^ leaving my chamber, I stepped from the 
inn for a leisure stroll through its streets and lanes. Pass- 
ing the gray old church,* bathed in the dun, melting moon- 
light of a summer night, such as for more than a century 
had snilcd upon its consecrated walls as one year had 
chaiied away another, the next considerable structure 
which arrested my allention was a huge, ungainly edi6ce 
of brick, like Joseph's coat of many colours, forsooth, and, 
withal, sadly ruinous as regards the item of windows. 
This latter circumstance, aside from [143] every other, 
figrocaUe to all observed precedent, would have notified 
tnc of the fact that this was neither more nor less than a 
western courthouse. Continuing my careless ramb!e 
among the cottages, I passed se\'enU whose piaxzas were 
thronged with young people; and at intervals from the 
midst rang out, on the mild evening sir, the gay fresh laugh, 
and the sweet, soft tones of woman. A stately structure 
of stone, buried in foliage, next stood beside me, and 
from its open doors and windows issued the tumultuous 
melody of the piano. A few steps, and the innocent 
merrintent of two young girls banging upon a gentleman's 
arms stnick my ear. They passed mc- Both were young; 
and one, a gazelle-eyed brunette, in the pale moonlight, 
was beautiful. The blithe creatures were full of frolic 
and fun, and the light Gallic tongue seemed strangely 

■The churtb of the ImmiHuUtc Conc«ptktn, Ibe fint pcnntocaE ilnKlure 
rvf iuklrnl vnt of I^ir All^ghaay Mounuini, ini huih In 1790, It iirutr>rn down 
in iSjS ukI « Urge brick cburth built' For ■ mon detuJed ducRf>tioa al lli« 
lonccr, WM #<m*, pp. 6J-64. — Ea 

34 Earfy ff^esttm Travels (Vol. t? 

musical from those bright lips. But enough — eoough 
of my evenings ramble- nay, more than enough: I am 
vr&xing sentimcntAi. It wa,s at a \zXt hour, after encoun- 
tenng divers untold adventures, that T found myself once 
more at my hotel The gallery was thronged with French 
gentlemen, and it was some hours before the laugh and 
chatter had died away, and the old village was buried 'ml 
Kaskoskui, riL 


" GUnud nunr i Vtg^t cvquc UotiK ihe (otm, 
Dum^f on ibe ihort itie <Uug1iteti of the latid." 

*' How c hi aged the *cor# sioce merry Jean B»ptUt* 
PiuUkd hi» piraa^ on L& Bclk Rivi^R. 
Ami frvm lis btnks sataf Uine Ijjyola prim 
&cbi>«d ^e night soog ai tbe mfBgeuf-" 

Tt is now more than a century and a half since the 
sturdy Canadian voyageurs, treading in the footsteps of the 
adventurous Sieur ta Salle, forsaking the bleak shores and 
wintry skies of the St. Lawrence, first planted themselves 
upon the beautiful hunting-grounds of the peaceful Illini. 
Long before the Pi^rim Fathers of New-England, or the 
distreascd exiles of Jamestown, scattered along the steril 
shores o( the Atlantic, had formed even a conception of 
the beautiful valley beyond the mountains — while this 
vast North j\incrican continent was yet but a wilderness, 
and the nations of Christendom, ignorant of its character 
or of its extent, knew not by whom of right it should be 
appropriated — a few French Jesuit priests had ascended 
in their bark canoes a distance of three thousand miles 
from the mouth of the "endless river," and had explored 
its tributaries to their fountains. It is with admiration 


Fiagg's Far ffest 



almosl bordering on asionishment that we view the bold 
adventures of these dariDg men.' [145] The cause of 
their fearless undertaking was, we are told, (o investigate 
the truth of an idea which at thai era was prevalent among 
the Canadian Fr^cb, that a western passage through the 
American continent existed to the Pacific Ocean, The 
Indian hunters had spoken of a vast stream far away to 
the west, which on their long excursions they had seen* 
but of whose source, course, or termination they could tcU 
nothing. This river was supposed to disgorge itself into 
the Pacific Seas ; and, to prosecute the inquir>\ Father 
Marquette, a recollet monk, and Sieur Johet, an Indian 
trader of Quebec, by authority of M< Talon, Intendant 
of New France^ a man of singular enterprise, entered upon 
the expedition. Thriddin)? the great chain of the Northern 
Lakes in thdr slender skiffs* and pursuing the Ouiaconsin 
River, on the 17th of June, 1673. the first Europeans de- 
scended the "Father of Waters,"* By the natives whom 
they met they were kindly received, and entertained with 
ft deference due only to superior beings. Among these 
Indians, the Illini, then residing on both sides of the Mis* 
sissippi, were chief, and their nation was made up of seven 
distinct tribes: the Miamies, Micbigamies, Mascotins, 
Kaskaskias, Kahokias, Peorias, and Taumarwausi a peace- 
ful, benevolent, unwarlikc race,' A vlUage was found 
at the mouth of the Illinois. Descending the Mississippi, 
the French vo>'aE<^ur3 were dissuaded from their design 
of exploring the Missouri by a tradition of the natives that 

* HilL— Flaoo> 

' Juquc9 Uaiquctlc WH9& JnuJi mlioloiuiy, ml A Kcn^Uvct. Conauil Rh G. 
ThwafM* Fatkft WarffHrfto (New Ynrk, ipcn). On JoHirt s« Frmnris Pnrk- 

(Quebec, ipoa), — Ed. 

*For ■ thorl note on ttK IllinoLi IndiAna, consult our ti>ltjtnc ixvi, p. iv^, 
note *6, — Ed. 


Earfy Western Travels 

fVoL a? 

near its mouth dwelt a Maniio^ whose residence no human 
being could pass with life: nor did the Indians fail to tell 
the legetid of [146J the PiasacWS above. Turning up the 
Illinois, iherefore, they glided with amazement through 
the green woodlands and over the olvery wave of that 
beautiful stream. It is, perhaps, at this distant day, and 
in the present era of "speculators and economists," hardly 
possible lo conceive die delighted emotions which must 
then have sweBed the bosoms of those simple-hearted men. 
Sieur Joliet, on bis return to Canada, published an account 
of his adventures^ in which narrative language seems 
almost too meager for description of the golden land he 
had seen.'° Father Marquette remained a missionary 
among the peaceful Indians. To the river partially 
explored was given the name of the celebrated Colbert, 
Minister of Marine, by Count de Frontenac; and to the 
trader Joliet, as a reward, was granted the island of 
Anticosti in the Gulf of St. Lawrence." 

Years passed away, and no enterprising spirit rose up 
to prosecute the discoveries already made. The mission- 
ary Marquette died among the Indians two years after, 
and Joliet took possession of his island. At length appears 
M. Robert, Cavalier de la Salle, a native of Rouen in Nor- 
mandy, celebrated as the birthplace of Fontenelle and 
the two Conieilles, and for the martjrdom of the heroic 
Maid of Orleans more than two centuries before La 

'*FUgg tm Iq wylng thai Jolllri publish^ an acrount of his advenfum, 
KU jouriuJ wu tod id tho Si- Liwrvnce RJver on tht refttrn joum«y- Father 
UuquctU, however. wroK « icmiTbal of bU tn^cU. S« Tbwuto^ Jtiuii Rtla- 
timu, lix. which «bo corfAlns Jollin'i nup at North Arrcnca {itiji). — Ed. 

" The Ifrlaid of Anilioni. In the rstmiry <^ Si- Livrenu Rirer, conuJtis klmut 
3,900 iqtiATc mflM, uid Li nor only of impoTtknce ju « centre of humlng hnA Btb- 
\tig iDtcTvaUn but u lidi In unclcvelopcd mineral naouKta. The fu>pu]ation of s 
tr* hutiilicd BOuU is chiefly conctfincd m fuhing. Th? iakod is now th<! property 
ol M, Henn Menirr. a P^^Jin fhoonUle manuiacturer, who perionally rules 
bu Ki^oiy with bencvokciL despotism- — £!>< 


Fiagg's Far ^«/ 


SaUe was a nmn of bold talents and dauntless enterprise. 
Ambitiou.s of fame and wealth, he emigrated to Canada; 
listened to the wonderful tales of ^etndk^s riv€r\ conceded 
the idea of a Northwest Passage to the East Indies; com* 
munkatcd his views to the commandant of Fort Frontcnac 
on Lake Ontario, [147] and was advised (o lay his plan 
before the Co\xn of St- Cloud. On his arrival at Paris, 
under the patronage of the Prince dc Conti, La SaUe 
received letters of nobility and ortcnavc grants of land 
in America, Associating with himself the Chevalier de 
Tonti, an Italian officer, who hod the peculiarity of a cop" 
per hand as substitute to one lost in the wars of Sicily, 
and Father Lewis Hennepin, a Franciscan friar, as his- 
torian and missionary, together with about thirty others, 
the enterprise was immediately entered upon, under special 
sanction of Louis XIV., lung of France. After a variety 
of fortune, prosperous and adverse, they reached the Illinois, 
and having descended that beautiful river some distance, 
discovered an Indian village consisting of five hundred 
cabins completely deserted. Here, having found a large 
quantity of com concealed in the earth under each of the 
wigwams, the party remained sh days. Descending 
ninety mQes. they came to Peoria Lake, where they found 
two encampments of the natives. At first hostility was 
manifested, but soon they were on most amicable terms 
with the voyageurs, and a feasting, and dancing, and r^ 
joidng was kept up for three days. Not long after this 
the boat containing supplies was lost upon "£« Baic des 
Puanis" or Green Bay; and La SaUe was forced to 
erect a fort, which received the appropriate name of 
" Cr€ve Cirur'^ — broken heart. The site of this fortification 
15 supposed to have been a spot now called '*Spring Bay," 
not far from Peoria, on the Illinois. This is a singular 
phcfe It is Q broad sand basin, some hundred feet [148] 


jS Early H^atem Trattis [VoL a? 

in diameter^ opening upon the river, the watcts of which, 
in the higher stagc?^, fill it to the brim, hut when low they 
retire, and jl numU'r of large springs gush copiou% forth 
from three sides of the ridge, and fonn a stream. "Blue 
Creek" empties itself just below, crossed by a bridge of 
carlh, while yet farther down is seen a large mound, which 
has been opened, and found to contain human remains 
twenty feet from the summit." 

At the time of the erection of Fort Crcve Cceur the lUtnt 
WTre at war with the warhTce Iroquois Indians; aiKl the 
former, anticipatini; assistance from their friends the 
French, and receiving none, resolved to destroy La Salic. 
His boldness and eloquence alone saved him and restored 
amity. No w)oner was ihis disturliancr quelled than a 
mutiny arose among his owti men. On Clirifitmas^y 
his dinner was poisoned, and powerful medicine aionc 
saved his life. 

IVeparationfi were now made to explore the Mississippi. 
Father Hennepin, with four Frenchmen, two Indians^ 
and M. Dacan, commander, ascended the river to the falls, 
and named them, in honour of their patron saint, St^ An- 
$hcny. They were here taken prisoner* by a party of 
Sioujc, carritti one hundred and sbrty miles into the interior 
to their villages, and detained several months, when they 
regained their liberty. Father Hennepin returned to 
Canada^ and subsefjuenily to France, where he published 
his travels in splendid style, dedicating the book to the 
celebrated Colbert. These early writings^ though deeply 
imbued with a spirit of superstition [149] and exaggeration, 
are yet valuable as the only records of the time,^* The chief 

" CuriceriJag L* SiUle'i dbcuvcfie»i Bct Ondca's Lttltirt Jnfm th* IFw', in our 
volume fix, [ip. AA-%y ^^^ latimptnylrg aaiei. — Ed, 

^' Coacwninjt HFnncyliiS T<i*nliiijrt fnjm Ci^ttwuf to Ihe Fulls of St. 
Antbonyt V^^fOi ■< iti prror Hjvnnppin wu vccnmpiiOled \rf two Frtadimen, 
Michel AccAull and ,^ntojne Aujcuclj Aai probablf tcqI mcTclir u their «piritiu| 



Ffagg's Far West 


of tbcde historians were Hennepin, Tonti, and CharlcvoiJL'* 
Difficulties arising with the Indiana 1-a Salic resolved to 
erect anuihcr Jon, which, after infinite diflGcully, was com- 
pleted. The Eite is described afi *' a rock, very high, the lop 
of which was even and of convcnicDt space, so that it 
commanded the river and country mund about." This 
description appUes to no place on the Illinois so well as 
lothCStaned Rock,'^ The (ort was called *' St, Louis." 
La SaJle visited Canada, and a crowd of adventurers 
relumed with hini. Descending \\\t^ TIHnuis iind Mis- 
sissippi, Uie company stopped (or some time at the mouth 
of the Missouri* then the Os^^ Ri^-cr. and found a village 
of the Taumarwaus, which was deserted, the natives being 
on a hunting expedition. In three days they were at the 
OiAachi or Ohio. At the Chicasaw Bluffs a fort called 
Prudhmnmc was erected, and formal possession of ttic 
country first taken, and, in honour of the reigning monardi, 

oonpuiian. His puhUciii^ni vett: DnstnfUtm da ia Z/wMa*v {PatK I^Aj); 
NfivttU DhowbtrU i'un Irtttrawt F4yi SiTut 4vti J' Am/njiM (Utrecht, iC^>^ 
Snvtam Yiryage d'kK Pai'j fiut (row/ qm tBi^vpt (Ulrtihl, 160*), The fir>l 
wudbUfaied ^ l^itiU XIV. ihr \a*x iwo xn Wtlliarn lit, king nf KngUni Fnr 
Ubfiogmphy of B^nncpin, m VktoT Un^ P^Uiu^ "BibUc^iphiul DaU," In 

**M. TonEi, AmoQg uihcr wvitcr*, ipCAkir^ cd the aniotrr, ■ccurding ic Mf . 

"The uil it. g^nnmlljr tpvakinf^ wo fcrtil*, Uitl it pmdufvi nMunlly. without 
(ultorTt those (ivfti th4l naturf and ut logcthci have much ndo \o bring foflh 
li; Europe. Tbcy Imvr iwo iTup» rvtry ycftr wltbout t^iif (rott fatigue^ The 
Tine* bring Mtnar^fi«ry tfrapcftn without the c*« o( the huiibAndD(i*D, ind the 
fpsMncmcBl no |[Ari:]enrm to look kflcr them, Tlic »lr I* woiTwhcrc LonpcrAtc. 
Tin anatry U nalrml wkfa ruTigabLc tivrtB> uid delldouft tmoLa aud rivuIrlEt, 
It i« Btorlred with ■]] »rta of bnilS) » butli, ifn^itrvr. woIvm, Unni, wild UMi, 
tiagik. I^U« ihcfT^ fotes. boA^ buvctv, <iti7r*t da^. ani) ^ »jeIi of fo*lt irlikh 
Afford a ptcQliFul g&mr fur itir mbabiluilH," 

Id aimher plnce, Ihic wnT«T ^vfa an vnuunci urmunt of hunting " wtM bulU^" 
irhich "f^ nlwiiya b^ dnrru rA three or fout hundrr^ nch," Thii ^cvrription 
uu««T« well tax the buftoloi but It i> not 10 cu) to livtcnniiLc vhit uklcnix]* ih<r 
mUlook lof '*wUd oucfl, goatfc, tncl eh«p/* 

pMs!nj{ down rhc Miaaiauppi. Tonti mcptlau the Mime *nlai«Ui tnd doCtfbM 
the fonsi-tms with toktiblu iccuracr. hint he nut idJcfJ. "vat m* thoc «bt>k 


Earfy fVestern TrawU 

(Vol, a; 

named I^ouisiana^ Several other forts were erected* and 
one ol them, the njuis of which yet remain, is supposed to 
have stood between St. Louis and Carondelet- Descend- 
ing the river on the 7th of April, 16S3, La Salle reached 
the Gulf of Mexico, where a Te Deum was suDg; a cross, 
with the arms of France, was suspended from the summit 
of a lofly tree; and the river, which had occupied three 
months in its e3:ploration of about one thousand miles, 
was named "St. [150] Louis." On his return, the asso- 
dales of I-a Salle founded the tillages of Kaskaskla and 
Cahokia on the American Bottom, while he hastened on 
to Canada and thence to Fnuice, to obtain a colony for 
the country at the mouth of the Mississippi. Losing his 
route on returning with this expedition, he commenced a 
Journey over land to Illinois; tait, while on his way^ was 
treacherously assassinated by two of his followers.^* 
It is a rcmarkahie fact in the hbtory of retributive justice, 

pluiu coTored vrith pomrsTtTuilr-tma. omngr-lrtTa, tnd Ipmon-irccs^ uid, in 
AM ww<I. with *11 ItinUa of fruil'irert," GooU tat (rtqucntty mcQlijnpd by dif- 
Icreal «nitcn, Hemupinn whilr ndrniing thr tceouat of ftn ecvbuay from Fort 
F^nkiuc to the lroe[u6U daIIodi uid the mrittion the piuly rnct with, 9Ajr>- 
'* Thff yDunx^r siviica wuhrd wif feci, 4nd nibbrd ibcnt with gms? ol dver, 
wtid gf*/ili. ind oil of tnrv'^ Whm Uf<«I in Ihvir tiMit «nd cul on the vnAtem 
shurc of hake Mic^hlgon, on Iruljitn of thcdr company "kUlcd Kvvral sUgs luid 
irlld euaU/' 

Wild ^ats Art rxAnipd so fre<iuentlv. Jtnd in so many connpiions, ai tunll^ to 
ftdmt oi dh inlcnlkoiuL nuircpracndiciori, — Fr-u^, 

Comment by Ed. Foi »tetchea of Chftrlevoii And Tooiy. kc Nutull'a Jamnaty 
io our volijine nii, pp. iift sfid ii7h notes 8i and 85 respfctively. 

^ Por a rec«at work on La Sollo. comsutt P- Chcswt, Hirloire it Cdvciier 4* 
La SttSte (Fuia. igoiV Wiih Lhc txccpdoo of Ci^wctEUf, Pnjdtuimmf. tfod 
St. Louia. vp hnvc^ aa d«finrt<? proof chai La Sail? ^&tabli«]m1 any other farts in 
the !tfiB»i93ippi VaUeyr He emtcd a rrkoaumccl at the mouth oi [he MiMuaippi 
on Apiil u. 1C82. on ttUitg pcrascuion o£ ibc country In Ibe name of Loula XIV, 
Katkaikia and Cahokia were not foumkd by th« maodatci of Iji Salle on !he 
laKer'a rduro- For historical alutchcaof ihtac towni^ see A- Michaui'a Tm\*ehi 
in our volume lii, p, 6g. nutc i^j. and p- 70* nuLc 15$. mjirctivdy. La Salic 
vai atnawiaited March 19, ib^j^ona bmnth of the Trinity River, ID the ptcieiit 
■idU of Tea*.— Ed. 


Fiagg't Far tVest 


that these nnen soon after dealt death to each other; and 
two pri<tftt?i of the mutineers became penitent, and confessed 
all the circumstances of the crime The burial spot of 
the noble La Salle is unknown to this day< Marquette, 
"the apostle of the wilderness.*' died under circumstances 
of touching interest on the lonely shorts of I^ite Michigan 
whUe upon his mission. Qiarlevoix, the historian, throws 
an interest of melancholy romance over the fate of this 
venerable man. According to this writer. Father Joseph 
Marquette was a native of Laon, m Picardy, and of dis- 
tinguished family. About two years after his discovciy 
of the Mississippi, while engaged in his missionary labours 
among the savages, he was journeying from Chicago to 
MichUlimacldnac, and on the 8th of May, 1675, entered 
the mouth of a small nver emptying into Lake Michigan 
upon its eastern side, which now bears his name Here 
he landed, erected an altar, and said mass. After tlus 
ceremony he retired a short distance, and requested the 
two voyageurs who conducted his canoe to leave him alone 
for half an hour^ while in private [151] he returned thanks. 
The period having expired, they went to seek him, and 
found him dead in the attitude of devotion; *' the circtim- 
stance then recurred to them, that, on entering the rivcr^ 
he had dropped an intimation that he should there end his 
days< The distance was too great to Michillimackinac to 
convey there his remains, and the royageurs accordingly 
buried them near the bank of the stream, which they called 
by his name. From Ihat time the river, as if from rever- 
ence for the missionary's relics, has continued to retire, 
and his grave is yet pointed out to the travclier. Thus 
did the venerable Marquette, at an advanced age, alone 
with his God, yield up bis blameless life to its giver, while 

>* FoLhn M»rqu«ito dj«d May H, 1^5, OH the j>n«ont ^lo of Ludins^c, 

Uidugan. — Ed* 


Kariy Wtstem Travels 

I\'d- 37 

enga^ in his holy errand of peace to ihc savage, and 
arnid the magnificeDt solitudes of the Und of his discovery. 
Subsequent to these explorations, colonics from Lower 
Canada rapidly settled the recent vilkges of Kaskaskia, 
Cahokla, and Peoria.'* But their design^s seem not to have 
been those of the speculators of our own day. Their fide 
anticipation was to amaisa opulence by mining id a country 
then supposed incalculably rich in the precious metals, 
from its resemblance to the diver region of South America; 
and we find exclusive grants of extensive tracts bearing 
this date to Cnizatr Renault, and other individuals/' In 
pursuit of this golden chimera, many expeditions were 
fitted out at vast expense. In 1699 M. de Seur, an enter- 
prising traveller, with ninety men^ descended the Missis- 
Mppi to a spot siK hundred miles above the Illinois^ and 
erected a fori [15a] upon the present site of Fort Armstrong 
for the purpose of exploring a mine of iefft vtflt^ said to 

" Fof the wtllpnietit of Tffih*, »« aui wolumc uvi, p. 133, (u>t* Qj— Ep. 

** Gving (o the «xhiuition of FmncF fr^lloiHne (br War of thf- Spanish Suc- 
ceMloti, Louii XIV, dEleiTDined to d«v«|i>p the reaonrcea ol the vul LoniiianA 
tnriiQTY' KWJln! fSe[jlcmbcr 14, 1717) to Anloluc CidhI, 4 wca-llhi' Bicrduat. 
tH^ ra-li]4tw rinbr of tnule in LnuE^ftmi fnr h inm of Mtnn ypars. AjDoni; olfi«r 
privlkgeoi Cio«4l wM permitted tn arnd onr Ehip ■ yc&r to Afric* for fl car^ of 
ACS^uc*, [u (ruvcu and opctAtc oil mlfm o[ proiioua mttuU la the trnltory, on 
Cht ccHbcHllOa lluu ■ fourth of ihe mctat tv lunwrl ovri 10 the Wing; anil to pouts 
la popvtalCjr all buiMinEii iinri EmmufaclorieB erected by luic in the tolunj'. On 
the oibcr liand, Croul wmb obli^ to import Iwu shj^l^iatlt ul lubnisiA «dch 
jrur, Jind *Hpf nlnp y«n irj B^sunip ntJ the eTpensrs of ihc gotrmrncn!. Tn the 
meantime the king v*at tcj fuffiiih fifty thousand Uvws onnaallj'. Cnwit did ilU 
la bi» ^wcj |u tlrvrUjp tlic ickjuiccs of Lhe counUy^ bu: uwin^ Id dbhjiird wnacig 
tbp fuhordinntP ofTtnjilii. '\r\ dfSpKfr he mrrendrred the cfaartcT to Ihr pTLorr regrnt 
(AugUit 13, L T 1 7), Sec Charkfl Gayarr^* Hiatory #J Z-attiWafld (Nevr OHeAnrtr 1 903]' 
After Ci<ic«il'a iuireaderi LouUiaru tciHtoiy wu turocd orn to the MiuJuippl 
(or WfAtrrn) Com pany, dlrrflH by John Law; ww ^aif, p. 4g. Dote 18. PhlUp 
Fr»r;^iB lUniult wu trmdo the prindpal agent fr>r a Freru:b company, vrhou 
purpose wu the dcvrlciptnriit (if the mjncs of the tndtory- In ]7>S> ^^ s^ilrd 
from Krmnce with mf>re ih»n two hundrrd merhnnirt, Hopped at the Wffii Indjrs, 
■nd Mcurrd a f^rgo of ^ve hundred negro alavcj, and in due cour» arrived at 
Fofft Chutre* in the niinoJi (ijai)- Laigc gnats ot UqJ fui mioinfl pmpoKS 
WfTT Ruuleto Rcnjuill^ aavMeruive tr*CT west of rhe MltiisaippJ Rivnr; another. 


Fiagg's Far WtU 


have been discovcro! in that beautiful region." Il need 
hardly be said that all thc^ adventurers were disappointed: 
but the buoyajit hilarity of the race did not forsake them, 
and as boatmen, hunters, comi^rs du bois^ Indian traders, 
and small farmersT" ^^ gained a comfortable Kubsistence, 
ajid merrily did they enjoy it- Most of their lives were 
passed upon the broad pmiries, and in penetrating every 
section of this vaM valley in their birch pirogues wherever 
a stream presented to them its bosom; and yd with the 
violin, the grape-juice, and a short pipe, they seemed the 
blithest mortals on the face of the earth. It was by men 
such as these that the \illage of Kaskaskia, in old French 
chronicles styled "Notre dume de Cnsaisquias,'^ originat- 
tog in die name and residence of an Indian tribei first was 

Ut4« le>^u«i Aquarfi^ nvar the ntc of Pvoria; and itiU another ibovv Fort 
Cluf(it«, iJiv IcftK^^ aUiQfi the ri\n nod two U*guc9 ilcc^- Uc fini^idcd S(. 
PhiUppf, ftr*i thr farri. anrt bunt what vu p»bAbly ihe fif«i •fp^lxina funwiv in 
Ihi^ ML&ouappi V&LteVr In 174J he xrluiivd to France, vhcre he died- — £1^- 
'* ri«tTe CKarks ^f Stittir wenl to (^AnMb ithrn » yrjung matit and ULgagpd 
II1C fur-trade. In Jf<is- ^KlIc conmuniiiiar 4| ChcquJuac|^ti, he ertpurted W> 
lorOi— (inc on Mjuielninr l*Lind. in Chn|ujifnrj(«n Buy (Ijikr Supmor), And 
ftDother OD or ubuid in the Miuiasippi, Tt«ar Rfd Wing, Mionesifta. Luier ho 
diKOTGTcd kdd minrA Along tht upper MiBsiuippfp In 16^ be Tclumid from n 
*irfl 10 Fttaa. and undo Ibprvillc'S dirccUona K«tched tea copper mine* in the 
Sfooi ecuniry. whew Le Sueur hid *«rlier fcfund gma esrth, L* ^\i«ur reubed 
the mcvth kA MtMcmn ILtvcr (July 1^, 1700) with olncltica men, dccordii^ to 
B^nard dt U ll*rp*'> ma[nj»i:rip', rompilfd fmm 1* Su*ut'« Jrtum*! — wflh 
tweotydioe men, ■■ related b/ P^nictql, 1 member ot the eifwdltion. Tbe mn< 
paoy was later iiu^rtAttd ta pcthA]» Unitr of forty, but not ninety, u FI«kk Hyi. 
I^ !iumir Mcvr^ltd the MiMlMiiipin and tt& tHbuUr? (hr MLnnrv>Ift, arvl ^refiAtt 
B fciit in Auguct. 1700, one league xhow- the point wberr tlLf< iilw* Kaib Riv«r 
(SC rrtei's River, unlil iS^'i eoiplin iaiii< the MUocutA, T^ fori ht iLomed 
I'HialitirT, in honor of hli patrcin in Franw, Flftgg hju tttnlnnM thl* ilie wfth 
that of Fort AjiTumaiE at Kodt Inland, lIUnuJH, In May- >7°ip ^ ^urur left tha 
teat in can of d^Eiaquc. who rcmoini^d in chargD until 1703, when he itujidoned 
the place. Far titrafli fmm oh^^aat documenii relating to I^ Sueur*! artlvlUci, 
GODittll: "L« Su«ur'i Miae« on tbe Mitiluippl/' ''LeSaeiu'i Voyage up the Ub- 
naippi/' and ''L( Sucui'i Fort on the Miutuippi/' in Wutoium Iliitaritai 

CfftlttliotS. TVI, pp 173, 1J4, TJJ-IDO-— IlD. 

" "Prftfj ^3rJiM>." — Flaoo. 

44 Early WtUem TravtU [Vol. a; 

settled ; and in & few years it had become an extensire dq>At 
[or the tiadc in fur^. It was probably by the same Indian 
tribe which originally possessed the site of Kaskaslcia that 
a party of the unfortunate expedition of Ferdinand dc Soto, 
by whom Florida v^as partially conquered, wa<^ almoTit 
di-stroywl about iht^ yirar 1539, lnd(^t.-d, there was a tradi- 
tion gtill extant upon the arrival of the French^ of their 
having exterminated the first u'Wto \Q£es they had ever 
seen. For tliree years did the chivalrous De Soto, with 
his nine hundred ^eel-clad warriors, scour the land in 
search of the reality of his golden dreams: at length he 
died; he was an object of hatred and terror to the Indiatis; 
and to conceal his death, or to [153I preserve from viola- 
tion his remains, his followers enclosed them ui a coffin 
constructed from the section of a hollow tree, and sunk 
them ttcneath the floods of the cicr^xad river. His followers, 
reducetl to only two hundred and fifty, returned to Spain. 
And so the burial-places of the first eicplorers of the Mia- 
SJS^ppi arc unknown." 

The extent of the tcrritor>' of Ka^kaskia was originally 
very great, strt'tching from the KaidtA^ia River to the 
Mississippi, a breadth of about two mfles, and compris- 
ing the area from the confluence of the streams, seven 
miles below, to the present site of the place. The tract 
below the town is incalculably fertile, abounding in the 

>■ Tbc bkXt\c <ti MiuiILji, io vhich F>Agfc is r?fvm(ig, wu Inugbt in Orlobw* 
1540, tvlfrccn De ^alo't nifn &nd the MobUiao lodlbD^, ciht the piVKiil »itc of 
HoUl*^ Our auihur in mlsi^ikcn in lUfi^xmlrig tlui ihcM ImliAiu wrtr the Ka«* 
kukii Dc So<T> n-BcHed Ihe MiatiMippI In M«y, if4i) wid di«l Mm^ 11, 154*. 
Hr started oq the «:ipcditioa with iMt OtAn tfca biiodnd iaen> ttulcad of one 
tlHhiUQd^ Arronling 10 ticfTFrn. ^1 body VMi Eald fn k hollow UTF-<uk tog, tod 
lawKnd inio Ihe SJiuisaippi: but H «Hiru mon probable |h*i ihc owiae vu 
wrapped in ni&nltra made hnfj br a ballut lA emikI, Jhnd (but lovrrrd intn the 
wilcr. Sfv 5a!in Ct. Shu. " Andcni Klorlda/' Id Justitt WJajor. Narrtaivt and 
Crilial History 0/ AmrriiA (Bo«ob and New York. iSSftX il, pp bji-jSj; iUo 
B. G. DourtM (ed) ^arntivtt 0/ tin Cowr trf Htnomic Jt St*a (New Yorit. 
1904)-— KO- 



FUgg's Far H^esi 


plum, the peranunon, the cherry, Ihe delicate pecan, the 
hickory, and the hazel-nut; and for the most pari was com- 
prised in one vast ^'common field," over which herds of 
wild horses, iotruduced by the emigrants, long roamed 
in undisturbed posscssionn This c&mman, consisting of 
seven thousand acres, was grsnted ''to Kaska^ikla and 
inhabitants for cvirr'- by VaudreuU, governor of the Province 
of Louisiana, as eojly as 1743." In this arran^ment we 
observe a striking feature in the policy both of the French 
and Spanish governments, in thar early settlements on 
Ihe MiHsishippi- The items of door-yards, gardens, stable- 
yards> etc., and of settling colonies in the compact fonn 
of towns and villages, as a protection from the savages 
and to promote social intercourse, were all matters of special 
requisition and enactment; while to each [154] settlement 
was granted two tracts of land for *Uo7nmon fields*' and 
"€4mmms" This distinction was not, however, invari- 
ably observed- The former consisted of several hundred 
acres, con\'ementIy divided among the individual families, 
and the whole enclosed by the labour of all the villagers 

'AnDCKd U a cppj' of cb« pwtl of tb* oelebrBlitd ctmmf»i 4tudicd to ibc 
Tfllmy ^f g»«^«*H» lE li tbr nrtlol ittlr the dElEPns hold lo wn cli<niBAiHf 
■CVCiOl tht iDfsT fordLc taiul in the W«f< — pvrfaflps in the world. 

''PnUK t>E RiQACiT DX. VACT>itTnx. GmemuT *nd Z\Ati. G*rira Ti.vLatm 
ComttdaHr^ onlem of the Fmyince of DiiiUiaiu, stea ihc prUtif m bi la ifrctrnieJ 
on Iho liiioHith <liy gl June af ttiit prMcnt fvor hy Ifie Inhabturt* Af fhv Ptnidi 
«f tlic bmBAcuUle CoooeptJon of K**^*^" dcrvodcncc of the Iltinoit* tmdtnn 
to be confiiriwcl in tfie [HbOfucm ol & cucnnuui which Ihey luvv had a loaf lime 
for the t>&»tiv«s* '^f <^^ ^«^ i'^ th« P<>tol cftlkd La poimi Jtf ttoii. wtjf-ti nifl* 10 
Ibe cncrvncc of the {tiv<r KiukMki&. Wc, br virtue oE the power to u gnolod 
bgr tala liiTi)<ir| lute coofiminl lod do confirm to tbt nid tnbabiunu Uv powoa- 
rtOS ol the «Ad ooAinon on Ibe loDowinK cowl^tinm — 

"Fliat. ThJUi Use tuiMo*ipJa* hc*ctolofc Rranicd dihcr bjr the India CoDfiUkj 
dlhev by our prntntson or by ui in (be piAitie ut KaiLmIlU od Ihe »iii; of ibe 
poim vQLfh nuu la <h« «ama« <A the riwt, th*ll lafudnatt a1 the Und f^mrAl 
to * man named Can/Kr, and in conaoquroct, ibal all «oacv*aou that may have 
bwn mule on ibc BaSd point troro tiie Land of the lald Cavalier forwani, i;id (be 
Mdc of Ow totnuku of the mid river «hall be mill aod vMd and of w> fftAi- lo 
«onKqueDCG of vrludi. the aaid Patat. aa Et b above deifcmtirf, ittaD ranafa 

46 tMrlj WeUerm Travels [Vol. a? 

in caminon. If th^ mclosurr oppo^Jte any \Asl{ was sufkrcd 
to become ruinou^i, the right to the common was forfeited 
by the offending individual. The seasons, also, (or plough- 
ing, sowing, reaping, etc-, were by public ordinftDce simul- 
taneous: yet with thr^ rrstriclKms each individual, 90 
long as he complied with the Decessaij' reguUiioos, pos- 
sessed his lot in franc oiti^ — fee simple, subject to sale 
and transfer. The **camman^^ was a far more extended 
tnu:l, embracing in some instances several thousand acres 
without enclosure, and reserved for the purpose of wood 
and postunige. Here there was no grant of severalty, 
and no individual portion could be appropriated without 
the special and unanimous consent of the whole village. 
To the indigent who came to settle amonp them, and to 
young married pairs, donations from this tract were often 
made bj' the villagers, and, if conveniently situated, might 

in «iirnniOD wjtboui kltviiag iu Tuiu», nc««TthekM, l um mg bo «a th* |Kiv«r 
^htDCTcr 1I1V cue may fcxiuirt II, uf puitiniE <^ '^ *'■*"**'■" to iW lnh*UunU 
MUblbhcd vul who mfty rtutOhh. uvl iMt. on the rrinvafntitfoai wMchm/ ht 
fD»d* ta lu by Uw ivipimi-ndAnu hntl >ub-d'l«i|at'« in tKr Mftd plu«v 

"S«ondlyt un the road vut|culy cAlLcd Ihc S^ttan LUtt httwttm ihr brge end 
■mUt Um ttimll bv n-bdnrd pnctlublc antt mtintAinfd for itw puu^ erf tfae 
Otlt Aod C4ttlr icolng Into llu Comninn, urul tbit hy larfc qE i>w prvpiiHoci ft« 
VfU of the t^rui Bscf the amatl Unn whov liiiid« border <»n ihr r»di of the Sjaan 
Ifatfl. \de1u lu (lie i^laia which ouichi to run aIotik the ildt of tht tULmc^ fromilie 
mMI row! of thr SqimrF Une urtio Ihc rivcTn ■■ alu th^ ou on tl^ tide i>f the poUM 
XOBOtBa W thp Miuluijjpi 0iuL lu the Ka>kAalua river, they ihAll hr made Acid 
ndtttfnni «t tht ri^icfiihr uf ihr ctimmnn^ty. ti> Ihr^ «ml that Ibr rulliv«ir^1 1«Ada 
bf aol Snjimd hy the trxitit- 

**'n^rdly, T<i Iftdliuic to the Lnhibltanli the nuao* o| nitUnit thdr ftUtiivaAl 
buvrst* Antl prnxm iLi bdng dAm&KHl ^ ^ utlk, we fnrliliJ ftti riemim lo leave 
that unir nogir upon culllTDird lanrii — tlipy jir^H lutwithtianriinit pvrntittpd 14 
ptt«v upoA tbdr own ptopcrr IvKkon having thsn ditiittritly watched. 

"FmirtWr, Wllliinilul Ihc wtx*l wh«h h nnih^laail KTaiipd belong toihtpm- 
jiif<fw » ot the Htid knrU, wp (arbkl all pcrmnstonil dnwn a ny flliewhets tb*n on tbetr 
O»BlMi4ltMid"i0tbi?w<>od»»hkhmaf befniiftdinlhr<ommonal04Tjtdownforthci( 

"Rnd, ptibUihed indaETiTiHl iq Ehc tnil thnr rv>]trrv^n m«f tv i^nortnt themf 
Giwa M K«w^rE«aiiB tb* fourlcealh dity of Augvii, ij^y VAUUHIvlUL. 

" Salhcpn/'— Flaoo- 



Fiagg's Far ifgsi 


subsequently become a portion of the ** common fieidV ^ 
That such an arrangement, und^r all the circumstances 
of the period when instituted, and with such a people as 
the early French settlers, was the best that could have 
been made, no one can doubt. But how such a regulation 
would suit a race of enUrpnsing Yankees, fidgeting eternally 
for improt'cmcntSy or a squad of tong-sidcd KcDtuckiaos, 
grumbling about elbow-room, i% problematical. 

[155] The proccwlings of our oatianal government to- 
wards these ancient villages have been characterized by 
generosity, whatever may be said of the conduct ol in- 
dividuals. In 1788, an extensive tract lying along the 
Mississippi was by ad of Congress granted to the French 
inhabitants east of that river; and to those of Kaskaskia 
was secured for a common field twenty thousand acres. 
T( is under direction of the trustees of the town by pro- 
vision of the state legislature.*' 

Unlike the policy of all other Europeans who have planted 
themselves upon the Western continent, that of (he French 
emigrants towards the aborigines, with the single excep- 
tion of the extermination of the Natchez in the South, has 
invariaUy been conciliatory, peaceable, and friendly-" 

* '' L'odcr the old miLiuLgnnFnl all ibc inhablUiDti bad equal accc^ to the «nQ- 
raoni for puaiuragr mad furl By an act of ihr IvglslaTurr puv] In ill^i. the 
dtiiwn* wcrfl dUlhoriMsd lo «bc( £v« uvsIkb cvrty <wi> yev%i vbo *bould citordte 
Ibc (t«tv? ot th« CDOunam. Lusr porlivtv Lbf icof, snd applir the proccc^UiochurUi 
AOd •ChOAl pyjpcurt inly. Thr- minmnn fields were Also origininy owiuhI jnlntly 
by (he vlU^senh though e*th resiideM «u u«ipnfid ui individual poflton, Th^ 
UnJud ^Idln (oauqbAk>Jtcf*> in eScq. delrrcmEned ikei^KhuofcAi-liciUKiip juwlthe 
k>ti have sioLf hr<en hrfrf in ffr timpli? " Srp Cimbiiutt HiiKry oj Rmufolpk. 
iionn/f, onJ Ptrrj C^ttmiut. lUinoit (Phil.'kdelphia, 14S3}, p joit,— Kd- 

" For tb? nicin^'kl dI Gcuekc Murg an, ufKin tltcac tuidi altfji^ Lhc MutUui^pi 
RtrnTp ihe repan of thr <i>mniit<iw l'> wlijch the alnvr \um\ tmn [rfrrrfvlp and 
At Bcanhitiofia of CongRM thvncn (Auguat sS, 19, t7&£}, m* l^-^t cf iff* Vit*l*d 
Standi €ic. fHiaicn edition, PMbdcIphiA, iSij), I. pp. 580-58^'— ^- 

** Far ui AccoiinL ot the citmnlDition a( lhc NalEha, vee t. A- Ukhaui'i 
Trovtii, iaour volunielUp p, >54, note $3. — SH- 

48 Eariy ff^aUm TraveU |VoIh »; 

This has been the cficct rather of debasing themadves 
than of elevaling the natives. Surrounded by every' 
thing which could fascinate the eye or delight the fancy, 
we find these inoSensive foreigners, therefore, unlike the 
English Kttlers along the Atlantic and in the elder 
Western states, at peace with all their savage neighbours; 
unambitious, contented, and happy, increasing and flour- 
ishing; and in a few years, they tell us, Kaskaskia, ''the 
lerreslrial paradise,'" numbered a ptipuUtion of eight 
thousand souls!** Blessed with a soil of boundless fertility, 
and proliBc in all Nature's Ituurious stores to a degree 
of which Icss-favoured climes can form no conception: 
subsisting solely by culture of the little homesteads around 
their own thresholds, by hunting [156] the wild denizens 
of their noble forests, or angling upon the calm bosom of 
their beautiful stream: simple-hearted and peaceful, almost 
without the teniM of iaw, gently ruled by the restraints of 
a religion they ^-enerated and a priesthood they loved: 
without commerce, the arls, or the elegances of life; a 
thousand miles from a community of civilized men; from 
year to year they went on, and from generation to genera- 
tion they flourished, until, in that of our own age and our 
own day, they are found still treading in the steps in which 
ibeir fathers trod I So long as the peaceful French villager 
retained the beautiful land of his adoption in undisputed 
possession, all was flourishing and prosperous. A little 
more th^ui half a century from its origin, Kaskaskia was 
capital of Illinois; and on the v-isit of Charlevoix in 1721, 
a monastery and Jesuit college was in successful opera- 
tion, the ruins of the edifice remaining extant even at the 

" DoubtJcaa on cjuggcnlion, — Fl^oO- 

Commtm fry fid. "Frtkm iSio ro sSsa ihe town (Kaskaskia) prDbably e^jq- 
tuncd more people than q1 anyothpr period of its tuitory' A census taken lU 
th4[ lUuc ahowcJ * p(4ml&Uoa of mvcq tbgiu4ad>*' Sec Siihry iff Rai^lph, 
Mimn*t and Prrty CoitmUi, p- 307. 


Fidgg-i Far WtJt 



present day." Tliis institulion was successful in conven- 
ing a number of the aborigines to its peculiar tenets^ atxJ 
at one period is said to have "rmbraced twenty-five hun- 
dred catechumens ! I" A most preposten>us assertion, most 

It was in the early part of this century that the scheme 
of that crlrbmtcd projccloff, John Law, of Edinburgh, 
OD the strength of which he elevated himself to the dif^it>' 
o£ Comptroller general of the Finance of France, was first 
set on foot with reference to the \'aUcy of the \fissis5ipp9. 
The design^ so far as it is now known, was to establish a 
bank, an East India, and a MissJSGippi Company, from 
[157] ihc anticipated enormous revenue of which was to 
be liquidated ihe national debt of France," The tcrritor)' 
of Louiaana had already acquired a reputation abroad 
for the boundlessness of the wealth and fertility of it5 soil; 
and, lo foster the delusion of Law's scheme, descriptions 
of this beautiful r^on, tinted with all the rainbow huea 
of romance, were scattered throughout Europe, until the 
distant wildcme^ of ks lUinois became the paradise of 
the slurobcrer's vision, 
land of fancy realized, 
fictitious credit crumbled, almost annihilating the finance 
of France, and burying thousands of families in its ruins. 

"The Illinois" was Ihe fairy- 
A few years, the vast fabric of 

*" "T^ idrA," nys Ailun Smtih. " of tlbc pcudblllEy of inulli;>!^n( piper moafy 
toalmoM Aa7 eneiit* vu Ihc ivaI loufxUlk^n o( ttb4it Uc«U»d the Mismtifpi XfJi#«v4, 
Uc DU3«t utnvA|[uit projcO, both of bukinK Md iteck-jobbidc ilut per^p« tb« 
■oHd rwT WW." — Fl*<m>. 

CmhhvI by Ed. John Lam dM %t V«oic«« March 9i, 1719. Canr«rtdnf 
hb ItrmncUl ractbodi, »n ^Jnilt LcvuKur, RttAtrihis hialeriqttt fvr U ryOtm 
4it Ijtw (Pjtriik. iSS4j- Ampir nml (iL-cur»ic ii, Amlrc* M- D*tfii"i A Uuurriial 
ShiJy 9j Idw'j Spttm (BoAlon, i^^t), nprinud from i,}ttarl0riy J^tmat of 



Early Wfstem Travels 


Law was exiled and retired to Venice, where in poverty 
be soon died. It !s a coincidence not a littte remarkaMe, 
that the same year. 1720, witnessed the same desperate 
game enacted by the South Sea directors in England. 
But the attmtion of France was now directed towards 
her remote colony in North America; and notwithstanding 
the failure of Law's scheme, old Kaskaskia continued to 
flourish beyond all compare. Other villages sprang into 
existence around; a lucrative fur-trade was carried on 
by the Canadian voyaReurs, and agriculture became the 
peculiar province of the French villager. The extent and 
luxuriance of the agriculture at this period maybe [158] 
gathered from the fact, that in the single year 1746^ eight 
hundred thousand weight of flour was sent to New Orleans 
from these settlements.'' At this period there was not a 
solitary village west of the Mississippi^ though the lead- 
mines then known and worked were resorted to by traders," 
Twenty years after the failure of Law's scheme, the French 
government formed the design, almost as chimerical* of 
s«?curing her immense possessions in the Missisappi Valley 
by a continuous line of military posts, connecting them 
with Canada; and vast were the suras of money expended 
in the undertaking. 

A centuiy, and the whole region was ceded to England, 
thence to our own government in 1783, and now old Kas- 
kaskia is but the wreck of its former prosperilyn It makes 
one almost sad to wander about among these ruinous, 
deserted habitations, venerable with departed years, and 
reflect that once they were thronged with population, the 
scat of hospitality, and the home of kindly feeling. The 
quiet villagers have been not a little annoyed by the steady 

"> Foi on £ccc>Liat cf tbc e&rly kbd-miDu, see Flagg't Far W0C, In our volvuoc 
iprti p> 95. ootc <B» — Ei>, 


FUggs Far Wfsi 


and rapid influx of immigration on cvrry side of ihcm^ 
dissimilar in customs, tan^aj^e, religion, and tempera- 
ment, while the bustling cntcrpmc has fretted a.nd dis 
pleased them. Long accuMomGd, also, to the arbitrary' 
but parental authority of their military commandants 
and priesthood, they deemed the introduction of the com 
mon law among Ihcm cxccaiingly burdensome, and the 
duties of a citizen of a republic, of which we arc so [159] 
pTOud, Intolerable dnidpery. Many, therefore, of the 
wealthy and respectable^ on cession of their territory to 
our gov-emment, removed to Loui^ana, where civil law 
yet bears sway; others crossed the river and established 
Ste. Genevieve and St.Louis;" while theforrigners return- 
ing to the lands from which they had emigrated, few but 
natives of ihe country remained behind. The ordinance 
of 1787" prohibiting involuntary servitude in the region 
then called the Northwestern Territory, induced many 
who were de-sirous of preserving Iheir blacks to remove 
to the new villages west of the Mississippi, then under 
Spanish rule. From these and a variety of similar causes, 
this peaceful kind-hearted people have within the last 
thirty years been more than once disturbed in the dwell- 
ings of their fathers. 
Kaskaskia^ III, 

" For an bistoricsJ ikcUli at Sts. Goiminv^ ve Conda^ Tatr^ In uur Tolujnt 
i^, p. 366, noic 174.'— EDp 

"Tbc Frtnch dvU [aw bIUI prcvafli in LouJiiAn^, 

FoTK Hood manogriph on ihe Oidlnance of i7iA7, and thr icxi of (he lunc. tee 
liyAoKuBAfTert, Etvlnliom of llu Vr^tfianct 0} I'S?. vtlk an Aettfunt aj Ik4 tafti* 
Ftami far 1A« Go%^itmtnt aJ Du N^kwal Territory (New York, i5gi),— Ed. 


Early Wtttem Travels 

\\<A. tj 


" If tay rt*Aentit<KUl at ftn> iJnic iciruuk ihil 1 *m ti4(lii.vlu It duit they taty 
fni umrnd ihm U « doign und^r ii." — Btiliik Fjaayist. 

" Let sal vnbltlaii rrtfKk their uicful InJl, 

Nor gnirltur hmr with a disdainfut smilfi 
The thor% ia4 ftimpb aniul* of the poet." 

G bat's SJfsy- 

Few things arc more difficult, and, consequently, more 
rarely md, than correct portraiture of character, whether 
of the individual or of a community. It i& easy enough, 
indeed, to trace out the prominent outlines in the picture; 
and with a degree of accuracy which shaU render it easily 
recognised, while yet the more delicate shading and light- 
ing 18 false; just as the artist may have transferred every 
feature in exact form, size, and proportion to his canvass, 
while the expression thrown over the whole may be in- 
correct^ This has more than once been the case in de- 
scriptions hastily drawn of that singular being, the Frmtk 
villager of the Mi^sissipfn. One distinguished writer has 
given an absolute caricature of the race. My own design 
has been, therefore, merely to throw before the reader 
those charactcriatic traits which not even the most care- 
less observer could have failed to detect, 

[i6i] Though Ijelraying but little of that fiery restless* 
ncss which distinguishes the Parisian, these men are yet 
Frenchmen in more respects than mere origin. In their 
ordinary deportment we view, indeed, rather the calm 
gravity, the satumme severity of the Spaniard; and yet 
in their fiUx and amusements, which were formerly far 
more frequent than at present, they exhibit ail the gayety 
of the native of La BeUe France. The calm, quiet tenour 
of their lives presenting but lew objects for enterprise, 


Flagg^s Far IVtst 


none for the strivings of ambition, and but little cxrc^'iion 
of any kind to elicit the loftier energies of our nature, has 
unparlcd to their character^ their tcelings, their manners, 
to the very language they 5pcak, a languid softness 
strongly cxintnisted by the unquiet restlessness of the etni- 
grani who is sucecudinj; them- Hospilalily was formerly, 
with them^ hardly a virtue: it was a matter of course, aris- 
ing from their peculian'ty of ^situation; and thr swinging 
sign of the tavern is a recent usurpation. The statute* 
book, the judiciary-, courts of law, and the penitentiary, 
were things httle recognised among these simple-hearted 
people; for where the iDE(|ualilies of life were unknown, 
what was the inducement to crime demanding this en- 
ginery of punishment? Learning and science, too, were 
terms scarcely comprehended, their technicalities not at 
all; for schools were few, and learned mm still more so; 
and thus reading, writing, and ciphering arc, and ever 
have been, the acme of scholastic proficiency with the 
French villager. How many of the honest fellows can 
do e\^n this, [162] is not for me to estimate. As to pol- 
itics and the affairs oj ike tuition, which their countrj-mcn 
on the other side ol the water ever seem to think no incon- 
siderable object of their being, they are too tame, and lixi 
lazy, and too quiet to think of the subject- Indeed, the 
worthy villagers very wisely look upon "earthly dignities" 
and thr likr much with the stoicism of Cardinal Wol- 
sey in disgrace, 

Too hMvj for I. m>n thai hopa lor hMVrft," 

The virtues of these people are said lo be many: punc* 
tuality and honesty in ihcir dealings; politeness and hos- 
pitality to strangers; though, it must be confessed, the 
manifold impositions practised upon their simplicity of 
late years has tended to substitute for the latter virtue 



54 Earty ff^afcm Travels [Vol. 37 

not a little of coolness and dialrust. There is much 
friendship and warmth of feeling between neighbours 
and kindred* and Ihc wamcn make affectionate wives. 
Ihuugh by no means prone lo consider themselves in 
the light of goods and chattels of their lirge-brds, as is 
not unfrcqucnlly the cast- in more enlightened commu- 
nities. Indeed^ as touching this matter, the Mi5sissippt 
French villager invariahly revrr^e?^ ihc sage maxim of the 

for he never presumes to depend upon any one but hts 
faithful helpmate, whether things are of moment or not. 
As to religious faith, all arc Catholicsi and formerly, more 
than of late years, were piinctiUous in obserx'ance of the 
ceremony and discipline [163] of their church, permitting 
but few festivals of the calendar to pass unobserved. 
Their wealth consisted chiefly of personal property, slaves^ 
merchandise, etc.; land being deemed an item of second- 
ary consideration, while lead and peltry constituted the 
ordinary circulating medium. Rent for houses was a thing 
hardly known. All this changed long ago, of rourse; 
and while real estate has augmented in value many hun- 
dred per cent., personal property has somewhat propor- 
tionally depreciated. 

In the ordinary avocatioan of the villagers, there h but 
little variety or distinction even at the present day, and 
fonneriy this uniformity of pursuit was yet more obscrv- 
afak. The wealthier and more enterprising kabilans were 
traders, often with peculiar and exclusive privileges; and 
lhe>' kept a heterogeneous stock of Roods in the largest 
room of their dwelling-houses, by way of being merchants. 
There are but few who practice the mechanic arts for a 
livelihood: carpenters, smiths, tailors, shoemakers, etc., 
as artisans^ were formerly almost unknown, and there 


Fiagg'j Far West 


is now in this respect but little change. Now, as then, 
the ma&s of the population are agriculturists, while many 
of the young and enterprising men embrace with pride, 
as offering a brond field for j;enerous emulation, the oc- 
cupations of boatmen, traders to the Rocky Mountains 

— in Ihe vicinity of which most of their lives arc passed 

— «fg«^& of the Amtrican Fur Company^ or hunteiB 
and trappers upon the prairies^ The bold recklessnesb 
of this class has long been notorious. 

(164] The idiom of these villages, though by no meanfi 
as pure ^s it might be, is yet much more so, ail things con- 
sidered, than could be expected. It requires no very close 
observation or proficiency in the language to delect a dif- 
ference, especially in pronuDCiHtioD, from the European 
French. There is not that nervous^ animated brUliancy of 
dialect which distinguishes the latter; and the nasal, length 
ened, drawling sound of words, gives their conversation a 
languid, though by no means a disagreeable movement. 
It is said to be more soft and euphonious than the vernacular, 
though very dificrcnt from the Creole dialect of the West 
India Islands. There arc some provincialisms, and some 
words which a century ago might have been recognized 
In some provinces of France, though not now. 

As to the item of costume^ it is still somewhat unique, 
though fonnerly, we are told, much more so: thai of the 
men was a course blanket-coat, with a cap attached be- 
hind in lieu of a cape; and which, from the circumstance 
of drawing over the bead, gave the garment the name of 
capote. Around the head was wreathed a blue handker- 
chief in place of a hat, and on the feet moccasins instead 
of shoes and stockings. All this, however, has pretty 
generally given place to the American garb, though some 
of the very aged villagers may still be seen in their ancient 
habiliments, the capole, moccasins, blue handkerchief on 


56 Early fVestfm Travels (Vol vj 

the head^ and an endless queue lengthened out behind. 
Their chief amusmient ever has been, and, probably, ever 
wilt be, the dance, in which all, even from the least to the 
greatest, [165) bond and free, untie. Their slates are 
treated well, if we may judge from appearances; for no- 
where in Ihc We3t have I seen a sleeker, fleshier, happier- 
looking set of raortab than the blacks of these old villages. 
Prerious lo the cession of Louisiana to our govern- 
ment, the Laws of Spain were pretty generally in force 
throaghout the province, 30 far as related to municipal 
arrangement and real estate, while the common law ot 
France — Coutume tk Pam — governed all contracts of 
a social nature, modified by and interwoven with the 
customs of the people." Each district had its comman- 
dant, and each village its syndic, besides judges in rivH 
affairs for the province, and oncers of the mUitia^ a small 
body of which was stationed in every district, though too 
inconfuderable to afford much protection to the inhabitants. 
These rulers were appointed by the governor at New- 
Orleans, to whom there was an appeal; and the lieutenant- 
governor, who resided at St, Louis, was commander of 
the troops. Thus the government was a mixture of civil 
and military; and, though arbitrary to the last degree, 
yet we are told the rod of domination was so slight as 
scarcely to be felt." However this may be, it is pretty 
certain they did not well relish a£ first the change in the 

" Under Ihc feudal rfgiinc in FrAn»> Ibe Local *>i ctutomvy laws of the nunc 
Ifnpi^rrflpi wnfm of populoilon fame gradually lo rittnd thdr %v%y ovtr lajgn- 
«Ad lATKcr difltricta. With the risini^ fnipotUflce of Puris, tbe touSume it Parit 
(coimnaa Uw 9I Puis)p nrfuimcd in 1 5S0 by oiiicr ul ihc putliamcnt, in timi: dJa- 
ptifcfl all othrn; it bmihrd Ihr rintioDal apirii. Codified, il vas In a senu the 
forrranncr of th* Code Napoleon, — Eo. 

*■ RrKkeimtlgc — la vhora the aiiLbor it Indebtrd for other biru icIdIIvc to 
thcH eu}y KlileiccnU^ — FtWia. 

Comntnt by Ed. Henry Maiic Bt«kcMid|p; (not BitckeoridRe). Vinrj of 



F/agg's Far Wfst 


ad mini miration of justice when they came under the juris- 
diction of our law^. The delay and uncertaint)' attendant 
on trial by jtiry, and the multifarious technicalities of our 
juri^nidcncc, they [t66] could not well comprehend, 
either as to import, importance, or utility; and it is not 
strangr; they should have preferred the prompt despatch 
of arbitrary power. Nor is the modem adnainistration 
of justice the only change with which the ^mple-beartcd 
viUaRer is dissatisfied. On every side of him improvement, 
the watchword of the age, is incessantly ringing in his cars; 
and if there be one term in all our vocabulary he abhors 
more than all others, it is this same: and, reader, there 
is much wisdom in his folly. In i8n the invention of 
Fulton's mighly genius was firat beheld walking upon 
the Weslem waters; and from ihiit hour ^4he occupation" 
of the daring, reckless, chivalrous French voyageur *'was 
gcme.*' Again the spirit of improvement declared that 
the venerable old cottage, gray with a century's years, must 
give place to the style and material of a more modern date; 
and lo 1 the aged dwelling where his fathers lived, and 
where his eyes opened on the light, is swept away, and its 
very ale is known no more. And then the streets and 
thoroughfares where his boyhood has frolicked, as the 
village increases to a city, must be widened, and straight- 
ened, and paved, and all for no earthly reason, to his com- 
prehension, but to prevent familiar chat with his op[xisite 
Deighbour, when sittin)^ on his balcony of a long summer 
nighi^ and to wear out his poor pony^s unshodden hoofs! 
It is very true that their landed property, where they have 
managed to retain it from the iron grasp of speculation, 
has increased in value almost beyond calculation by the 
change; but they now refuse to [167] profit by selling. 
Merchandise, the comforts and luxuries of lifc» have be- 
come cheaper and more easily obtained, and the reward 


$Z Early Wtsttrn Travels [Vd, a; 

of industrious enterprise is greater* But what is all this 
to mcD of their pcxuliar habits and feelings? Once they 
were far better aml<rntcd, even in comparative poverty. 
There was then a harmony, and cordiality, and unanimity 
of feeling pcn-ading their society which it never can know 
again. They were as one family in every village; nearly 
all were connected either by ties of jifGnily^ consanguinity, 
propinquit>\ or friendship: distinction of rank or wealth 
was little known, and individuals of every class were dressed 
alike, and met U[>on equal 'Am\ familiar footing in the ^me 
ballroom. It is needless to say, that now ''Nous avons 
change lout cela."^ 

As to the poorer class of these villagers, it is more than 
doubtful whether ihey have at all been benefited by the 
change of the past twenty years. We must not forget that, 
as a race, they are peculiar in character, habits, and fcel^ 
iDg; and so utterly distinct from ourselves* that they can 
with hardly more facility associate in customs with us 
than can our red brother of the prairien Formerly the 
poorest, and the laziest, and the most reckless class was 
(earless of want or beggary; but now a more enterprising 
race has seized upon the lands with which they have im- 
prudently parted, perhaps with iiitle remuneration, and 
they find themselves abridged in many of their former 
immunities- Their cattle may no longer range at will, nor 
have they the liberty [i68] of appropriating wood for fuel 
wherever it secmeth good^ It cannot be denied, that many 
a one gains now a precarious subsistence, where formerly 
he would have lived in comfort. Nearly every one pos- 
sesses a little cart, two or three diminutive ponies, a few 
cattle, a cottage, and garden. But in agriculture, the 

■Spmatplle.— Fulqo. 

Cvmmtmi by Ed. Sgaoarelk u a cluActer Id Molt^'a ptflyi, noUbly in 


Flag^'s Far Wtn 


superior industry of the new immt^nt can aSord them 
for lease-rent double the result of their toil, while as dray- 
men, labourers, or workmen o( any kimi. It i& not difficult 
for foreigners to fiurpass them. In a few years the steamer 
will have driven the kcd-boat from the Western waters, 
and with it the voya^air, the patroftj and ihe courier du 
boii] but the cxcupation of the hunter, trapper, and engagi^ 
[n which the French villager can never be excelled, must 
continue so long as the American Fur Company &nd it 
profitable to deal in buffalo robes- or enterprising men 
think proper to gu to Santa Fi for gold dust. Nor will 
the former, however lazy, lose the reward of his labour 
so long as the market of St- Louis is as little ^^rstockod 
as at present. Nathless, il i& pretty certain "times ainU 
«uw> Of thfy used to 'was" to the French villfl{;er, all this 
CO the contrary notwithstanding. 
Ka^kcskia, la. 


"All |Mii£a have mxy dad, 
ChufdsM and dUA, |h4i bftv« diBMBn IJV* to man, 

Mu»l hflvc like deftlh thai wc have '* 

" Binh hu gUddea'd it; LJnth bu mictiG«d If." 

"Thp roof-tnr tlnJit, but isoiilden on ikt wall 
In muiy hcahueH," 

In remarking upon the history of the French in the 
West, and the peculiarities which still continue to char- 
acterize them, I am aware I have lingered longer than 
could have been anticipated ; much longer, certainly, 
than was my original intention. The circumstances which 
have induced this delay have been somewhat various. 
The subject itsel\ is an interesting one. Apart from the 




Earfy Wiittm TravtU 

(Vol. .7 

delight wre all experience in musinfi upon the events of 
bygone time, and that f^dtification, 50 singularly ex- 
qui^te, of Ireadirif^ amid ihr sarm-s uf '* things dfparted," 
there U an interest which every individual who has cast 
bis lot in the great Valley cannot fail to feel in every item, 
even the most minute, which may pertain lo its history. 
In dwelling, too, upon che features of "old Kaskaskta/' 
my design has been to exemplify the distinguishing char- 
acteristics of all these early settlements, both t'rcnch and 
Spanish, in the Valley of the MissUsippi, The peculiari- 
ties of all arc the samCf as wizre the circumstances [170] 
vbich Srst conduced to them. The same customs, the 
same religion, the same amusements, and the same form 
of govemmmt pn-v^iled among all; and though dissimilar 
In dialect, and separated by the broad Mis^igsippt, yet, 
cut ofi from all the rest of mankind, both the French and 
Ihc Spanish villagers were glad to smother differences, 
and lo bind themselves to each other in their dependant 
stuation by the tendrils of mutually kind offices and social 
intercourse. Thus, several of the villages stand opposite 
each other upon the banks of the Missis«ppi. Ste. Gene- 
Tieve is only across the stream from KHskaskia, and many 
fine old traditionary legends of these early times are ye£ 
extant, and should be treasured up before too late> 

But another circumstance which has been not unfa- 
vourable lo that prolixity into which I have suffered my 
pen to glide, and without which other inducements might 
have proved incScctuat has been the quiet, dreamy scclu- 
son of this ok) hamlet, so congenial to the workings of the 
brain. Yesterday was like to-day, and to-morrow will 
be the transcript of yesterday; and so time's currenl slips 
lazily abng, like 

"Tbe liquid lapse of « murmudof itreuii." 

As to objects of interest, one cuuld hardly have lingered 


Piagg'j Far ITest 


;so long %Jk I ha^t withm the precincts of this "sleepy hoi- 
jlow" without hAvbg met with socne incidcDts worthy of 
'xegard for ihctr novtUy^ if for naught dse. 

There are few 9iuatioD& in OlinoEs which can [171] boast 
advantages for mercantile traiuaction superior to Kas- 
kaskia. But the riilagcra are not a commerrial. enter- 
prising, mone>*-mBkii^ P^<^^ *™i ^ trade of the place 
is, therefore, very small. The river is said to be navigable 
!ot fifty miks from its mouth; the current is gentle, and 
an inconsiderable expense in clearing the channel of fallen 
timber would enable: small boat^ to penetrate nearly two 
bODdred miles higher, by the mcandermgs of the stream* 
to Vandaha. Mcasoics for this purpose hare been en- 
tered upon. A land-office for the district is here estab- 
lished.** The number of families is seventy or eighty, 
nearly all French and all Catholics, besides considerable 
transient population — boatmen, hunters, trappers^ who 
traverse the great rivers and broad prairies of the 

Opposite Ka&kaskia, on the summit of a lofty crag o\-cr- 
looking the river^ once stood a large fortress ol massive 
timber, named Fort Gage. Its form was an oblong quad- 
rangle, the exterior pol>'gon being several hundred yards 
Id circumference. It was burnt to the ground tn 1766. 
About twelve years subsequent to this event, the place 
was taken by the American troops under Colonel George 
Rogers Clarke, '* Hannibal of the West" Aftermost 
incndiUe exertions in the march from Mrginia, he arrived 
before Ea^askia in the nif^t; and. though forti6ed, so 

"A kAd<iAff vt%% MtJblixJiM] M Kukasku by mn of Congnss ■pprorcd 
litf^ 7^ 1S04. "lor so much cf ^hf Uads inclisdcii «iitiin the bi^tondanc^ ftiv^ 
bf da tmlj of tbc thu1cc»lti of Auj^iist, ooe ibcuuad fight hundit^l aud lhrc«, 
«M Chr g»ilai^lt fribe of Indians, u ti rut claLmed b^ «nj otticr ladUn tribes' 
tkii «M (Cxoflttmued by ord«r of th« pmtdcnt. Noroater ti, 1S55- The rceonlc 
«tiT imuCened lo Springfield tbc folknrira Fcbruvy. — Cd. 

62 Earfy Wistem Traveh iv<rf. 17 

bewildering was the surprise of the viUa^rs, that not a 
blow was struck, and the town was taken." 

Thi^ aged ratholie church at Kaska^iiia, among (172J 
other relics of the olden time, is well worthy a stranger^s 
visit. It was erected more than a century ^ce upon 
the niins of a former structure of similar character, but 
is still in decent condition, and the only church in the 
place- It 15 a hu^c old pQe, extremely awkward and un- 
gainly, with its projecting caves, its walls of hewn timber 
perpendicularly planted, and the interstices stuGFcd with 
raortar, with iU ({u<i!iil, oldfa^hioned spire, and its dark, 
Storm-beaten casements. The interior of the edifice is 
somewhat imposing, notwithstanding the sombre hue 
of its walls; these are rudely plastered with lime, and dec- 
orated with a few dingy paintings. The Boor is of loose, 
rough boards, and the cciling arched with oaken panels. 
The altar and the lamp suspended above are very antique, 
I was informed by the officiating priest, having been used 
in the former church. The lamp is a singular specimen 
of superstition illustrated by the arts- But the structure 
of the too) is the most remarkable feature of this venerable 
edifice. This I discovered in a visit to the belfry of the 
tower, accomplished at no little expenditure of sinew and 
muscle, for stairs are an appliance quite unknown to this 
primitive building. There are frames of two distinct 
roofs, of massive workmanship, neatly united, compris* 

^ Dunng the Indian irouhlcs a fort wat erected in 173& on an emin»nc«, later 
kuowiL *» GajniBon Hill oppcAile KMko^A' Ii vu ivpurcd lad ixcuplcd by 
A Frcnfh guH«on at the npening af the French 4ind IncliAn Wfir. In 17M the 
tort waa bunted* but anolhcr aoon bftervunl hviilL was occupied by the EnfUab 
C177?) nmJ nuncd Fori Gagcr, in hniKii of tbc Dnliab (.uinmaiulcT-Jn-chicf' On 
ttie night o! July 4. 177*, Colonel Georgt Rogm CUrk capturtd th# Ion anri 
BiaJe It hjfi hudquiuten whiJe in XlUnDia. H was abandoDcd at itw clou ol th« 
Rr^ullun, but Mas re-ocuupicd for b bHou time \y§ AmctJuAu tiD^fi is i3ai. 
Cokin«1 Ptke*4 reginipnl wu BlaIion«l Ihrrplora «hon pnrtod, SmR- G^ThwBiIe«, 
n9wCei»s4 Ragff* Chttk Wen Iht Narlku<*tl [ChitagOr 1903).*- £», 


Flagg's Far West 


ing a vast number of rafters, buttrcsscfi, and braces, cross- 
ing each other at every angle, and so ingeniously and 
accurately armng^ by the architect, that it is mathr- 
malically impossible that any portion of the structure 
dullSBk until time with a single blow shall level the entire 
[173] edifice," It is related, that when this church was 
about being erected, the !iimple villagers, astonished at 
the immense quantities of timber required for the frame, 
called a meeting of the citizens, and for a time laid an 
interdict upon operations, until inquiry respecting the 
matter should be made. It was with difficulty the archi- 
tect at length obtained permission to proceed; but, when 
all was completed, and the material had disappeared, 
they knrw not where, their astonishment surpassed all 
bounds. The belfr>' reminded me of one of those ancient 
monuments of the Druids called Rocking stones; for though 
it tottCTed to and fro beneath my weight, and always swings 
with the bell when it is struck, perhaps the united force 
of an hundred men could hardly hurl it from its seat. The 
bell 13 consecrated by the crucilix cast in its surface, and 
bears the inscription "Pour f^glise de:i iUiruns, Now- 
mand A. ParruheUf, 1741.'' The ricw from thw elevation 
was extremely beautiful: the settlement scattered for miles 
around, with the quaint little cottages and farms all smil- 
ing ui the merry sunlight, could hardly fail of the lovely 
and picturesque, [174] The churchyard attached to the 
building is not extensive, but crowded with icnants^ It 
is int o this receptacle that for four generations Kaskaskia 

"Tbe md« will »col]«ct lliiit Ihtiw rvAn wffrt iLkitchetl twoypin i^, ^ncv 
tb*t time »n» ch&aEra id tbia uld edifice bav? token pEocni Ihu whole luuLbwnl 
anglF tui fAllcn do thi* ground, ind, i^prablr la Ihr Ipict thtf i<ntirr roif tfould 
k^vF follavf^d b\ii tot Uit firtnuMLnaFy ttrcagch of one lotiUr^ piece of limber 
H)|;h niob wu In utrbfalifrn M ihr trnirt am) tbc diunl^h was crowdciJ. buL to 
ModAfTit otnirml. Th' old buildiDg has hetn linct? dismBrit1«d. hnwcver; lb 
brD nimoT«d from the tovcr, and the wEuilc structi^rc viU »oii, prcb«bly, be 
pRMtTftted br ''dc<Ay'« eSftdo^ Qo^^cr/'-^ Flwd- 

64 Early fVettem Travels [Vol. tj 

has poured her enlire population. I saw but 8 (cw monu- 
ments and a pdo of stones. The first record on the register 
belonging to this church is, I was infanned by tht? priest, 
to the following efifect, in French: "1741, /»w 7. Tk^ 
mr/rtting were brought to the }f>rt thre^ borim from ^tnihout, 
kiUal by ike Rcncrds, to whttm we gave sejndture.^' There 
is here also a bapti&mal record, embracing the genealogies 
of the French settlers since 1690, and other choice old 
chronicles.*' Some land deeds still remain extant, bear- 
ing date as early as 1712, and a memorial also from the 
villagers to Louis X\V, dated 1735, petitioning a grant 
of "ccfnmonst** etc., in consequence of disasters from the 
flood of the preceding year, in which their all had been 
swqit away, and they had Iieer forced themselves to flee 
for life to the bluffs opposite the village. 

The Nunnery at Kaskaskia is a large wooden structure, 
black with age, and formerly a public house. With this 
institution is connected a female seminary, in high repute 
throughout this region, and under superintendence of 
ten of the sisters. A new nunnery of stone is about being 

It was a glorious morning, and^ with many a lingering 

" The «iIiMt "*itnic< from die baptismBl r*cord» of the miwion unong lh« 
niinou, under ihc cilJ« of lh« ImmaculAtc conc«ptJOD of Our I^jr.'* bcArs J&tv 
March ic. itt^j. The &m d^rcniony itcordcd aflti the rcmotftl of \ht mluloji 
to KatlcAikia, w« perlfirmfri April r?, »;o[ S^ ^" Kiikjukia Church K«ord>," 
la lUiuoJA Gtair HialimVn] libr^i^ Pu^icatiem {Spria^held. iq&i), pp. 394-4LJ; 
Edward G. Muou. ''KoakukJa And iu Pariah Rrcordi/' in Ftrgm Hiitoricitl 
Strtfi. No. 1? tChlffle^, i8*t1, pp, 1-13, C W. Alvntd. Tkt Oid Kathaikitt 
Jtaflordj (CHfago HliLuricjil Sodcl/p tgoPii. ildjo^tM oj American Htttery^ vi, 
PP- itit-rAi; Mickigan Pienar CoUtttionst t» pp. 94-109, — Ed, 

** A cDDVeal ot the Vifliifttian «u etubliihed al Kiwltulciji [n Mny. [833* bf 
• colony Irooi thr parent hflusc at GeorgdowSf Dialrict nf CalumbU. I1 wta 
patnnlKd hf Pierre Mriuird) aud tunncclrd with ihc ftcadcmy named in hi* 
boiwr. A luge building wit erp<-tnl and oprt>rd for pupik in t^^f>- The Initio 
tutic^n cnp^d 4 hj^h TcpulAU'an Until the dood of 1844 forced ill abandoafncnt. 
See SiMory vj Rattdt/ipK Uomow. und Perry Cmtnikt, p, 308, — £l>. 


Flagg'i Far iVett 


Step, 1 \eiX behind me tho villaf«c of otd Kaskaskia, As 
I rode leisurely along the banks of that placid stream, 
and among the beautiful farms of the French settlers, I 
more than oner R-mmdfd forcibly of s^ilar scenery 
up the Kennebeck, [17^! in a distant section of Maine, 
^faicrtm by the name of ^'Indutn Old P&int" where I once 
took a rainbte with a college classmate during an autumn 
vacation. The landscape b one of singular beauty; yet, 
.mrc it otherwise, there is a charm thrown around this 
distant and lonely spot by its association with an interest- 
ing passage in the earliest history of the country. In tlie 
expressive language of an eloquent writer, who has made 
;Oxt place the scene of an Indian tale, the soil is jerHtiud 
'>y the Mood of a murdered tribe. Here, one hundred years 
ago, stood the village of the Norridgewocks, a tribe of 
the powerful Abnaquis, who then held undisputed domi- 
nation over the extensive wilds ol the far East. Though 
possessing not the fierce valour of the Pequods, the sinewy 
vigour of the Delawares, the serpent-like subtlety of the 
Penobscot^ the bell-toned idiom of the Iroquois, we are 
yet told they were a powerful tribe for their intelligence 
and their numbers. The Jesuit missionaries of Canada, 
while al this era they were gliding upon the beautiful rivers 
of the distant West, had not neglected the stcril rocks of 
the equally remote East: and the hamlet of the Norridge- 
wocks had early been subjecled to the influencrs of the 
Easdnatmg ceremony and the lofty ritual of the Catholic 
faith. Under the guidance of the devoted Sebastian Rasle, 
a rude church was erected by the natives, and ils gray, 
cross-crowned spire reared up itself among the low-roofed 
wigwams. Beloved by his savage flock, the venerable 
Father Rasle lived on in peacefulness and quietude for 
thirty years in the home of his adoption, During [176J 
the troubled period of the "French and Indian War" 

66 Early Westtm Traveii (Vol, 37 

which ensued, suspicions arose that the Norridj^ewocks 
were influenctxl by their missionary to many of Iheir acts 
of lawless violence upon a tillage of English settlers but 
a few miltfs distant- In ttie autumn of 1724 this dutrust 
had au^^entod to a conviction that the Abnaquis had 
rooived on the extermination of Ihe white race, and a 
detachment of soldiers ascended the Kennebeck. It was 
a bright, beautiful morning of the Sabbath when they 
approached the Indian hamlet- The sweet-toned bell 
of the Little chapel awoke the echoes with its clear peal, 
and announced the hour of mas& just as Ihe early sun- 
light was tinting the faroU hill-tops. A few moments, 
and every living soul in the village was within the church, 
and had bowed in humbleness before the "Great Spirit," 
The deq> tones of the venerable Rasle were supplicating, 
"Ora,cra pro nobis," when the soldiers rushed in. Terri- 
ble and indiscriminate was the massacre that ensued. 
Not one was spared; not on€:\ The pious Rasle poured 
out his heart's blood upon the altar of his devotion. Those 
of the natives who escaped from the chapel were either 
shot down or perished miserably in the river, their bark 
canoes basing been previously perfora.led by the treachery 
of their foes.*' The drowsy beams of that day's setting 

"^ t give thfl mdltion oC fh« fArmen nov rMfdml upon tht apot. Watorj 
differ* kimcAhat, 

Miifit at (lit hiili^ncal Fuels rrUlIve lo ibc eKlenninAtlon of ihfc Aba&quli 
ftill bt f^nd conderi5«I in the Rubjoined sxinci from a lat« vaJuible work. 

"Dvteniiin«] on deiUoylng this aurmblA^ of Indians, nhlcb wma the hcAd- 
quiincn of the whole cosceni couniiy ii thU i(mc, Ihe English, in i73j. vat om 
1 force, oonHiating of 7f>3maa*nd three Mri^Awk. Indiana^ undef Ckptuas-Vffu/'M*, 
Harmttt, tnd BffttnUt Id humUc them- They came tipoa ibc vinflfCT? the asd 
Auguit^ when (here wis Oct a oiati In una to oppose then- Thpjr hvl Lcfr 40 
of ihelr men »| Tecotiftt Folli, whiiili u nov within the lava oi Winalow, upon ih< 
KctiJicbcck, imd kboul lito miles below W'lcivIUe Collcj^c* upon the opposite aide 
i>r thf river The Engtiah ha^ divided Ehemaetves ln[o ihrrc iquidmni: Ao. under 
Haf^nMit. proceeded bf a drcuilovs n^ulc, thinking lu luipriic igme to their cora^ 
fieliiA. ivhilc BtoitUfn, vUh So morCi prwcctlcil directly for die vill«eci whichi 


Flagg's Far H^est 


sun drcAmed beautifully as c^-er among the fragrant pine- 
tops and the feathery hemlockit of the river-bank; but 
his slanting rays smiled iqiOD the aadent hamlet beneath 

bdas HimHiadcd far OMfc cMid aot W VMS MiD Ofy BOTV dovt ipea k. AD 
ikvT« In Uwir vifirtfaa, ««d Um Eoghk — hau^rf ibafr ■»' ^ pnfeci «■»». 
lAi'btfEi pTtirr near, »d twdifts runs iNtt «| hb gltwiM, amIi uMrMaOj di*oov- 
<Ki>c tbe Eagfldk, t«a b tad icbed hb flun, and fitiBg Ac wvboofw in ■ kv 
Esjauict the nBrTton wen tH fa vm, mhI •dvndas ■» bmi fhMb, If «tAm 
«rd«rBd hf* nmt sol 10 6r* cadi Iha Ittdiui had Mad* Aa ftral divlivfa, Tlii* 
order ITU obqpcd, tad, at be cipnttd, dx*- orrniKM dv Eaclbli. who Uke fir«J 
vpoD them In chrir nm. and did fzuf cfimuoa. When ihe ImlfeAi htd gtna 
VHtlwr nlky. 1^ AM vilh gre«i p»f>piutk« to iW rt«vf. «rfatba ttv chkl 
of thdr ivomca Bed chUdna fcad abu ficd dixna^ (k fi^KM, Soaw ol the ^^f^"** 
piDVucd and killed ouaj cd ibrm ta ihr riwi, aod otbm fell to |dlifiBf uid 

poMtMlap ol a fricwiat^ bo* vVcfa he ted «pM Ar |" j 1 Is c« of Ui 

dbcfcugn he U!ki] a Bfc^ak. vtirae bn^br?, afaH**|fl( it. rvlml vpoa tad 
kUad hin, and t^iu tsdcd 1^ itnic. T^ier* m« nhvat 69 warrkn ia th« 
litan, akNl oos UK •! fA» ««n kilM. 

"Thcr CuMva lEoA rfnl htaadf up In hii bmv, ban wtikch he Ami u|»o 
Chr EngHah; aad, ha«taf waindlid oar. UnAraaai Japtn, of Nevbury, bum 
opea the dmr. aad aboi Mm ihRNi^ the btad, ^^^"-^ M^wtttn had ^vco prtei 
imi none ihcnkt UL him. He ktd an Kaflbh bof «ltb btet. ainwt 14 rf^i*>U, 
who fc*d bF«Q taken vcnc time befan fmn tbv twaitii , and wtivD lb* Kfijjtih 
leponcd AiaEi «aa atHHu to kill. Gnai bntfafitjr aad ttfodtr an cbarfleabk to 
the Eagjirfi in ibu aflur, ifcOKtiog id ibeJr own ifcnun; lucti ai kllUog wafDm 
aad chOdrcD, aad acalpieg uy3 maagling tfu Ivvff ol Kaelvr JFjj/r 

"TVr* wa« li<r<c a hamUonc chunk, vilh a bcC on vhkh tibr HogUfth com- 
minrd a dcmble iicrikxr. brA sobb|a( il, tbaa «rttiag It da fiiv; bcfEin «uf;Awu( 
Ch* act M the Anrt *'*g"l* nrraoaavigatBr in hii dfrndarincu uiii>n iha Spun- 
ked! ia South Anerka; lor W o&lr VMk anj the pM and iDtct vmrU of a 
church, and lt» cndai. bcrauM It fiaa oC miaij fold, mi afaoat vilfa dianLoiLdi. 
aad Ibil, too, «p«i 1^ advn of hit cbafliin- 'Thii tnighl pML' Mfi • Kvertnd 
ajlbior« 'lot >C4 diTudct, but |utckv b qwt« Aaoihrr t>nnj[/ Pobapt il will l>t 
a« vdl fioi 10 Ifv^ulre brte iiIlu ktad of dMpJir WM^ BiiEbiiJciu t^ *<^ 
ia Ibta* wan, of. indMd, xxtf wtn- 

"t7pon thti amrxmUr <*cnt ia our caHr annaK Father Chm'Itv^ir ibould 
be brard- Tbrre woe ar< la^ bt, at tbc time Lhc aUatk wai uiadc, abune fo 
warrtoia M Ttf cfldyiwinV ; (hne Hi7vd th^f armt, and fou liKliurdrr, ruM tnikFcxid 
ike pitca lliintl aa cacin7 »bo wu ttrrady in it, tvt to ftTVur the flifthl of the 
vnmm, ihe aid men. and the cbJIdrrn, ao^J cc ecl^v thfin lime to sain iJic aldr g/ 
the ri*Tr, vhkfc waa wit frt in peawMiAn of the Kn;tlib Ptth^r Raile. wiriud 
br the d aO M W aai tuniuh, a^ tbc dan^^ in wbidi b« lound hit proK^ylM, 
ra» W rWMt htendt id the auilanU l^viag to dran all tlicu (*ty u^f Min, 
that ibcfcbjr be might pifove the taNaiiHi ol bu Oac^. HJa hdpo via vain; for 


Early Wtstem Travth 


[177] whose anhes its eitenninati.'d dwellers were slumber- 
ing the last sleep! 

The grave of Father Kasle, a green mound overlook- 
ing the stream, was p<>inted out I0 us. A granite obelisk 
to his memory was erected by Bishop Fenwick, of Boston, 
a few years since, but was demolished by a party of 
miscreants soon after its completion. My object in this 
lengtbcned episode upon the Nomdgewocks, so casually 
introduced, has been twofold: to illustrate the peaceful 
policy of the French towards the Indian all over the con- 

hardt^ bod tip rtfKovnvd hlmHff, vTia tlw Kag;Uih nlud a gT'U ilumt, vhirh 
vu foUovod by ■ slvnrvr «f shot, by which he fell dMd txMt to tbe crvna vhkh h» 
hmd cr«ifd Jn the centre of the vilin^r Kvcn IndJjkna whu iiiciulcd him, apd 
ttbo pademimd in ibield him wiUi (hnr iwd bodipi, fell dud al hii ildfl- That 
died Lhic cturitAblr pciftor, giving hj& Eifc fo( hit theep, after 37 ytAtt of puitful 

'^Although the Engllib shot tieu 3000 muikeUi thfy killed but jc and 
vrounded 40- Thr^ Bf>«rr<J not (h« fbufrh, which, Bltn Xhtf had Indigiunllf 
pivluicd its »citd vAscs and ihc Adanbk )MAi ol Jcaus Chiut^ tkcy set oti CiCk 
Th^r Lhm fdiinl tfith [ircdpLlUkin, bAving boco icizal with a sudden i^anic. 
The Indiftni returnnl lmmHUftr#lv Into thf viLlfeg?; and Iheir firtt can, nThile 
the vcmen tou^i plants and herbs proper to heal the vrouadedj waa to ih«d 
tcan upon (he twdy uf their )iuly iniwinHry. They foamJ him |Jfiiccd idlh ■ 
th<m»nd ihfLi, hit 4<alp tak^n off, hit ittuU frartuT^d vitb haichtft, his manih 
and eyci titled with ditt the bonea of hu legs brukcD, ftnd ftU hia memberft 
amtiUleit in • hundred diJcrtDl waya. 

"Such Ulhc nccount of thp loll of Baile. by 11 brzither of the faith; n deplorable 
lulcture. by whoro»Dev« TtlntrdT Of tbe tnitb of ila maia particQlara the« tan 
be no dovlrii a^ will be Kcn b/ a comparuon of the above tiaoslatlon with the 
ar<ouRi pmreding It. There vTCCp btsdet Mogg. othd chid Indiana who fell 
that day 'Bouajiim, Moofi. Wi^CtfEU^. Jan, C^iAanssTT. ird B0iifJUZE3r*C 
yjii-ln-law, all famous warrioi?.' The ifdnunomiy dI ihf Enf;liab oa this occaaon, 
espedaUy to Ihr wuneii and cbildrcD, caoaal be cicused. l\ grcaily ecUpicfl the 
liuire of the virtory." Drahf't float n/ iht XibUnu, b, lii., i:. 5.^ Flacc. 

Ctnwiwnf ^ ^. loatefid of the French v^xA tn^an War CiTJ4-i7Aj)r FUgg 
it doublJeu rdeirinB to Queen Anne's War h70J-i7ij)' 

A liirge amounr of vnluiihle but scatter^ documenury ifid tmndary inFonna- 
lion (ontmring thi* mixaaacie and the cbuk« leading 10 it may be found under 
(4ptiDDA ■' NofriJcewoci" aad "Raile" in indeaci to Maidc UisEodc&l Socieiy 
Colkaitmt. and Dtrt-ttrntrUt ttUirve ta Calaniol Hiilirry of SUtU oj JVcrt Ytrrk 
(Albany. 1*5*-*"}- Sm alao William Ai>^ Histmy of jVomd^euw* (FJonidge- 
wock, lfl4«)' 


Flagg's Far West 


tinentr and lo contrast it with thai of other Europeans. 
The ride from Ka&ba^ia to Prairie du Rocher in early 
Autumn is truly delightful. Crossing Aubwhon^ formerly 
called St* PhiUppe ~ a pa&sagc from the Mississippi to 
the Ka^kaskia, itbout four nifles alxjve the town, and 
through which, in high floods, a rapid current passes from 
one river to the other — the path lay through a tract of 
astonishing fcrtihty, where the wild fniil flourishes with 
a luxuriance known to no other soQ, Endless thickets 
of the wild plum** and the blackberry, interlaced and 
matted together by the young grape-vines streaming with 
gorgeous clusters, were to be seen stretching for miles 
along the plain. Such boundless profusion of wild huit 
I had never seen before. Vast groves of the ruby crab- 
apple, the golden persimmon," the black and white mul- 
berry," and the wikl cherry," were [178] sprinkled with 
their rainbow hues in isolated masses over the prairie^ 
or extended themselves in long luxurious streaks glowing 
in the sun. The pawpaw/* too, with Its luscious, ptj'py 
fruit; the peach, the pear, and ihe quince, all thrive in wild 
hixuriancc here; while of the nuts, the pecan or Choctaw 
nut, the hickory, and the black walnut, arc chief. As for 
grapes^ the indigenous vines are prolific; and the fruit 
is s^id to be 90 excellent, that wine might be, and even 
has been, made from them, and has been exported by 
the early French in such quantities to France, that the 
trade was prohibited lest the sale of a staple of that king- 
dom shouW be injured I But all this is undoubtedly ex- 
aggeration, if no more. Although the gmpe and the wme 

* IndUs Dsto. by lb<^ French smiled PlnoninJrr, Ditis^M Vugintana.^ Flaoa- 

■• tftv^ ff^I^nl ±rtd Aita.— Flacq. 

** rrwwj C^fiutu Vi'iirtia. — Fi.aoo, 

■• CulBid apple- Anrvna gUihra, — FlaC*. 



Early H^estrrn Travels 

[Vol 37 

ol soulh«m IlliD4>U liave long been ihe thenie of the travel- 
ler through that delightful region, from the worthy Father 
Hennepin, who tells us of the puipic cltistcrs lending their 
rich hues to the gliding wave, to the tourLst of the present 
day, yet from personal observation I am confident they 
arc fww by no means of much importance, and from good 
authorit}' am inclined to think they nevtr were so. As 
Co the manufacture of wine becoming a matter interesting 
to commerce^ there is no probability of that. A kind of 
liquor was formerly made in some quantities from what 
u called the v/ifUer grape, common to the ^ame latitude 
in many portions of the United States, but it is ^d to have 
beeo A very indifferent be%'erage. It was made in the 
Following simple manner: the clusters were heaped in 
broad, shallow [179] vessels of wood, and, after being 
crushed, the juice was expressed through perforations 
for the purpose in the sides and bottom, by the applica- 
tion of heavy weights, into vessels prepared for its recep- 
tion. Slight fermentation then completed the process. '^ 

A ride of some hours through this delightful region 
brought me to the blufis, which, at this point extending 
into the plain, con&nc the bottom to a narrow strip, 
bounded on the one side by the Mississippij and on Ihe other 
by the battlement of the cliffs, upward of an hundred 
feet in height. Beneath lies the French village of Prairie 
tiu Rcehcr, so called from its situation.'* It is thirteen 
miles from Kastaskia, and its low cottages scattered along, 
like the tents of a nomadic tribe, for miles, are completely 
overhung by the huge, beetling crags above. From the 
deep alluvion along the river*s verge rises an enonnous 

Ccwrwti by Ed. Henir Mane Bntdcenridip, Virws o^ LntuuiWi P' 6o- 

" For a ikvlcb of Pruiic du Rudicc, kc A. MiilwuA'* 7VdvcJj» m uuf irulumt 
ill, p, TO, note f J3- — Ed. 




Fhgg't Far West 


of cottonwood^trces and sycamores, concealing 
■the stream from the vinfc-. From the bluffs to this belt 
of forest stretches away the vast cormnon field, rustling 
with maw. The €aslor-l>ran and tobacco-plaDt are also 
often seen carpeting ihe ground with emerald. Around 
each tenement, as usual, is a plat of cultivatwi land, and 
the luxuriunccr of vegetation is unrivalled. Passing (hrse 
outskirts, I at length arrived at the Ixxly of the nUagef 
Ijnng upon a creek or boyou of the same name, which 
winds through its centre, and empties into the Mis^ssippL. 
This quiet stream was orte the scene of a very bloody 
tragedy- WTien Illinois first came under territorial govern- 
ment, and oourts of civil judicature [180] were est&t>^ 
Kshed, the functionaries of the law^ in passing one day 
from Cahokia to KaiJcaskia, to hold at the latter place 
a session, stopped a few moments at this creek to water 
tbdr hordes. The animals had scarcely begun to drink, 
when a shower of balls from an adjoining thicket la^d 
three of the party weltering in their blood.'* They had 
neglected the usual precaution to disguise themselves in 
the garb of the French villagers; and such was the hostility 
of Ihe Indian tribes, especially that of the Kickapoos, 
to our countr>Tnen at the time, that to travel In American 
costujnc was almost inevitable death. The Indians at 
that day had the ascendency in point of population, ard 
the Kaskaskia tribe, as well as others, was powerful. 

At Prairie du Rocher, as everywhere else where these 
ancient villages remain as yet undisturbed in Ihctr century 
slumbers, the peculiarities to which I have so frequently 
alluded stand forth to the traveller's eye. The narrow 
Janes, the steep roofed houses, the picketed enclosures, 
the piazza, the peculiar dress, manners, and amusements 

** This tnditioa d«B not ippur Co h>ve heert lulind in tbt loct] hfilortei 
of ibc ^tm. — EDh 

y% Earhf Wettem Travfh [Voi »7 

of the vilUgrrs, all point hack to a fomiffr a^^ At this 
pbce I tarried (or dinn^. and while my olive-browed 
bosteas, a trim, buxom little matron, was ''making ready/' 
I strolled forth to the bluEb, having first received most 
positive injunctions to make my rrappiraFance when the 
h^m sotmded', and, Bcr&mblin^ up a ravine, soon stood 
upon the smooth round summit. The whole tract of coun- 
try over which my route had led was spread out like a map 
before me; and the little village lay so directly at my feet 
[f8i] I coukl almost look down its chimneys- Among 
the crags 1 obtained some fine petrifactions, which I ex- 
hibited to my simple host, much to his astonishment, on 
my return. Forty years had this man dwell upon the very 
spot he then inhabited, the faccnc of his birth; and almost 
every day of his life had be ascended the cJiffs among which 
I had been clambering; and yet, though the scashelU were 
standing out in every direction from the surface of the 
tcdpc» not the slightest peculiarity of structure had he ever 
ditarncd of. That tlic great ocean had rolled among these 
rocks, he could have formed no conception. Experience 
had toM him that when burned they were lime, and he 
neither knew nor cared to know anything farther of their 
character or history. This slight incident well exemplifies 
the ^mplicity of this singular people. Content to live 
where his father lived; content to cultivate the spot he 
tilled; to tread in the steps which he trod; lo apeak the 
language he spake, and revere the faith he observed, the 
Trench villager h a stranger to the restless cravings of 
ambition, and acknowledges no inclination to change. 
At Prairie du Rficher is a little, dark-looking, ancient 
Catholic church, dedicated to St. Sulpice, fonnerly '*Chapel 
of Ease" to Fort Chartres, but at present it has no resident 
priest. The population of the village is about two hun- 
dred. Its site is low, and, buried as it is in such enonnous 


FUgg'j Far /f^rst 

vegetation, the sf>o( must be dnbcdthy: yet, year after 
year, arxl grneralion after generation, have its preisent 
inhabitants continued to dwdl where death ahnost m- 
evitable must have avraited an (182] American. But 
where will you search for a tk^hicr, sleeker, SMrarthier- 
looking race than these French \iUagers? Some attrib- 
ute this phenomenon to diet; some to natural idiosyncrasy; 
and other some do not attribute at all, but merely stand 
amazed. The truth of the matter Is — and the fact is 
one well ascertained — - that, give a Frenchman a fiddle, 
a pipe, a glass of ciaret, and room eiwugh to shake his 
heels, and, like a mushroom, he'll vegetate on any soill 
La Pmirir du Rochtt, fU. 


tb«fv Ha UacIt bwir iki bom a tolh i •• tW «Md. Tb* tei looked out fraa 
the vlDckrtr*; dw imek pM* of the wl vKTcd r«>iu4 U> hc»L'— OvtML 

"W« lia towc tkeie madt/m niioj: 
We oenr trtad ft^aa cbm bae w« •«t 
Ov fiaM upoa Bcttc nvcrced Utfarr-** 

To thoGC of the present day who are In some d^rree 
acquainted with the cjctcnt of the vast Western Valley, 
it is not a little surpri^uag to observe how inadequate the 
conception with which, l^ its early proprietorvt it was re- 
garded, and the singular measures which thetr mistaken 
estimates w^pnatcd. It is but within a very few years 
that the extent arvl resources of thi<i country havr become 
SuflSdently developed to be at all appreciated. That the 
French government was wholly unaware of its [iSj] 
true character in the cession of old Louisiana to Mr. Jef- 
ferson in the cariy part of the present century, and that 
our own people were at that time little leas ifpionuit of 
the same tect, need hardly be suggested to one acquainted 


74 ^^ty ^^Jfem Travel [VoL t; 

with the diplomatic negotiations of the day, or wiih the 
viiru's and the feelings of the respective powers then 

But there arc few circumstances which more definitely 
betray the exceedingly inadequate idea entertained liy 
France respecting her puhsissions in North America, 
than that early article of her policy, of uniting her Cana- 
dian colonics, by a continuous chain of mihtary posts, 
with those ui)on the fiulf of Mexico, That any ministry 
should seriously have entertained the idea of a line of 
fortifications four ihtfumnd milex in extent* through a 
waste, howling wilderness such as this valley then was, 
and along the banks of streams such as the Ohio and Xfis- 
sissippi yet continue to be; and that the design should 
not only have been projected, but that measures should 
actually have been entered upon for its accomplishment^ 
scans, at the present day, almost incredible. And yet, 
from the very discovery of the country, was this scheme 
designed, and ever afterward was steadily pursued by the 
govcnimczit of France. La Salic, in his last visit to Paris, 
suggested the policy of a cortUrn of posts from the St. Law- 
rence to the Gulf of Mexico, and urged the measure upon 
Colbert as affording a complete line of defence to the 
French settlements against those of the English along 
tlie Atlantic shore. In furtherance of this design, he 
sailed to establish a [184] colony at the mouth of the 
Mississippi, in prosecution of which cjcpcdition he lost his 
life. A line of fortifications was, however, commenced* 
and gradually extended along the southern shore of Lake 
Erie: one stood on the present site of the village of that 
name; another between that point and the Ohio; a third 
on the present site of Pittsburgh, named Du Qucsne; a 
fourth at the mouth of the Kentucky River; a fifth on the 
south bank of the Ohio below; a sixth on the northern 


Fluggs Far West 


.bank at the moutb of tbc Wabash; a sex'cnth at the con- 
fluence with the Mississippi; half a dozen others on the 
latter stream bdow the junction, and .several above upon 
its banks and along those uf the Illinois. Among these 
last, and the mo«t extensive of the fortifications then ereclod. 
was FO£T CnARiKES, long the most celebrated mihtary 
post in North America, now a pile of ruins." 

It was a beautiful aftemooRf when, leaving the little 
French hamlei La PrairU du Rochar, after a delightful 
ride of three or four mile^ through rich groves of the per- 
simmon, the wiki apple, ;ii]d (he Chickasuw pluin/* I began 
to believe myself not far from the ruins of this famous 
old fort- Accosting a French villager whom 1 chanced 
to nneet, 1 inrjuired the site of the ruins. He turned on 
me lus glittering dark eye for a moment, and, pointing 
away to the dense belt of forest upon the left in a direct 
line with an enormous black locust on the right of the 
pathway^ passed on. Mot the slightest indication of the 
object of my inquiry was to be [185] seen; but deeming 
it fruitless to attempt gathering farther information from 
the dark-browcd villager, who was now some distance 
on his way, I turned my horde's head from the path, and, 
after labouring several rods through the deep, heavy grass 
of the prairie, entered the wood. The dense undergrowth 

** War ^MUUn M F<irti Prv»qu' Uh <pr?»eRt nte of Ena>r Miduult (cm AUc- 
gbenr MvoX Duqi^our? iprrscnl site of PJllibaTB'i. Lr Bicuf (nni tbc pfrwiit 
lovn 0I WftfmloTd. Penruylvoau), ^1^ Ja*q>h ^Micbignn), find Omolnni^r) (nn 
the Wabub), Dctnal, «ni) t!ie ton on tbr M4um« River, •?« CrogfaAa*B Jotttnalit 
m oax rv\iunt J. p- I9i. ikHa 6?; p* loi. ooix ^i p. A^i noir 4^;; p, soi. note fry. 
p- 117, no** 85; p. 55, not* t»; and p. isa, note Sy, mtpKlivtTy. On Fiwti 
Cbvuvs (oQ Ihc Mluiulppf) ADd Mivoc (on the Ohio), vx A. Micbftux'ft 
Tramtj, In our vulunic iU, p. ji. note ij& and p. 7J, note ijg, lespcctivdy' 
tatt Muaic m« th* otiEy onr tipon thr Ohio. Jiirh«n<jLu'« poat wpa cncled 
(170^) *i ih« awtoittce of the Ohio and the t-^^auaipp^, but wju toon 
ib&adoocd — En. 


of bushes and matted vines was undisturbed, and there 
was not An indication of visiters at the i>pot for rnoaths. 
All seemed deserted^ and silent, and drear. The ruins 
were completely shrouded in foliage, and gigantic trees 
TTcrc rearing their huge shafts from annjd the crumMing 
heaps of rubbish. Wild grape-vines and other parasites 
were creeping in all directions over ihe trembling struc- 
tures; or, drooping forth in pensile gracefulness from the 
disjmntcd walls, seemed striving to bind up the shattered 
i fragments, and to conceal the pitileis ravage of time. The 
I effect of this noble old pile of architecture, reposing thus 
I in ruins, and shrouded in the cathedral duskiness of the 
I foreit, was singularly solemn. 

" THc t(vc«, ihouj(h tummrr, ycL forium nrv] team, 
O'dvotne wiih mou utd balrful mlsllrlor^ 
UrT^ nptfpt ilunM tht luo: hrrv nothing bmds 
UdIc94 the nightly iyw\ or tattX rtvcn^ " 

Securing my horse to the trunk of a young sapling rear- 
bg up itself beneath the waUs^ I at length succeeded, 
by dint of struggling through the rough thickets and the 
enormous vegetation, in placing myself at a point from 
which most of the ruins could be taken at a coup d^oHi. 
Some portions of the exterior wall are yet in good preser- 
vation, and [e86] the whole line of fortification may be 
easily traced out; but all the structures within the <}uad* 
rangle are quite dilapidated, and trees of a large size are 
springing from the ruins: an extensive powder-magazine, 
however, in a gorge of one of the bastions, yet retains its 
origiDal form and solidity. The western angle of the 
fort and an entire bastion was, about fifty years ^ce, 
undermined and thrown down by a slou^ from the Mis- 
sissippi; but Ihe channel is now changed, and is yearly 
receding, while a young belt of trees has sprung up be- 
tween the ruins and Uie water's edge. The prairie in 


1836183 7| 

F/tfgyV Far fVai 


front of the fart w;l£ in cultivation not many years since, 
und was cdcbrated for its blue grass. 

Fort Chartres was erected by the French in 1720, 9S 
a link in the chain of posts which I have mentioned, unit- 
ing New-Orleans with Quebec; and as a defence for the 
neighbouring villaged agaJnst th^ Spaniards, who were 
then taking possession of the country on the cippositc side 
of the Mississippi, &s well as against the incursion of hos- 
tile Indian tribes. The expense of its erection is said to 
have been enormous, and it was considered the strongest 
fortt6catioa in North America. The material was brought 
from the bluffs, some four or five miles distant over the 
bottom by boats across a considerable intervening sheet 
of water, and from the opposite side of the Mississippi, 
In 1756 it was rebuilt; and in 1763, when France ceded 
her possessions east of the Mississippi to England, the 
adj<»ning vitLagc embraced about forty families, and a 
church dedicated to St Anne." [tS?] When the English 
troops took possession of the country, the villagers all 
removed to the hamlets across the river, then under the 
French government, having been previously ceded, in 
the treaty of St. Ildefonso, by Spain to France. The 
fort was not evacuated, however, until July, 1765, when 
its commandant, M. de SL Ang^s dc bdU rive, proceeded 
to St Louis with his forces." 

■ Imoiedii^lclT ft/wr the <rrclioa ol Fort Cbiutrr^ f 1710!, > viUigr sprung up 
&nd the JctiiiU *«*b!iAli«l Ihrrt i^t parish at Su*. Anne dr Fort Chatltrt Tlw 
4&rticsL rcorIi i^f tliu ^ruih now ectantj hvif the d«tc 1741-^ ED- 

•■ Philip PtitmHn, whn united Fori Chirtr^s in 1766, wys in hit Prtunt SitU 
0/ thr Evrpprat StlUimntt m ^ Miirisip^ (London, 1770)1 p> 4A1 conccrnlitg 
F<n Ouuti««: "In the jtv [7A4 then were nbaut forty C&miUei ia the vUUgt 
[tf-Ar the fort, knd 1 psriih church. vivM by a Fcandtran frur. defiu^Ecd tn St. 
ABfie- In th* (nlbtring yemr, whrn die Knglith Inofc powtsaion of the countty, 
lh«7 AbfttiduEitd thrii bouHi. cucepE thm or looi pooc faiuiUeit aiitl settled tl the 
irilbgn on Ibe *n1 ilile of che MlwUlppl, fhuitng to coDtiQue under the French 

Id a ponunal Imter <SaUd Nuvcmtcr 3, 1763, Louta XV tfcnkd to Chjulei HI 

78 Early W€sum Travth [VoL aj 

While Fort Chartrcs belonged lo France, it was the 
scat of government for all ihc* neighbouring region; and 
In 1765, when lalccn possession of by Captam Sterling, 
of the Royal Highlanders, it continued to retain its arbi- 
trary chaxaclcr. It was here that the first court of justice, 
vstablislied Ij) Litii tenant- colond Wilkius, \\v\k\ it* ses- 
sions.^ Seven judges were appointed, who cajne together 

el Sp*^ ^1 of tho Frvncb torrilDry ld North Amfniu Ifini to Lha wc«t of UMA' 
itpirf Rivu; »« Shcphvid* " Cnsioa of Louiiuna 10 SpaW in Fotiikiil Siitntt 
Qmtrirr^y. xix. p|> i^O'*$K ■!» Thv^tln, Frana m AmfTlt4 (N«w YgHEh 1^5)1 
pp. tjt-tj^. Nflpfjpoa rorrred Ch*rt« IV to rrtrocedc Luuiuuui tu Pr«ac«« 
by Uir atcitl Ifr^l? of S^ ndcforiBOi u^ncd October 1, tSoo, Tbrvc yran laUt 

CapUlD Lotjii St. Aogc dc acUerive bvnbtiy sumndFred Fon Chutrvi to 
OipUuci Sir Tljum4a Slrrliiig oa October 10 (nul Jiily)* t^Ot,, ikciil Ui Si, LuuU, 
AT'I nnlftrlng thf Spanish vrvice vke plired ia riHnmkciil nt Ihi* lltTlr ijniriunn 
tbvTT, coiafxtHd olmoat wbnlly of tail Fnncb eocDiHtriota vho hud rvmovpil thlth«r 
Irgm ihc UUndv For ■ iknch ot Si- A(i$c trt Ceo^liun'i JattrntUi, iu u\aj vuliinir 

I, p, 13a, Wit* IflQy— KP- 

*" Sir Thomjfct ?iterLing 4i7J3'lAoA\ rommlvkinrfl ciptafa of ihe ^ancl FIL£h< 

Hndm (1757)1 •'tvhI with hi» mm in th* ronquMt of Cftuadfl* xnd the cipTMre 
<tf U«rtlQique (i7^<j) AEul llavanna (ij6a). IlAvinc t^cn command of Fort 
CharLrm iu Octubcr, 1765* tir whi rirlirvrrj of th&ji unplcJU'inl duty. Deirnibci 4 
cf >hr lune year. Iw Mijor Hi^bflrl FarmT, bwding r d^tifhrneaE of British foot 
from Mobile. SEcrUng And his rvKJnu^nt k( »J1 from Amcrirft (1767)1 bui trturaed 
(ijjH) flnd ifTvrrf with diitinctlon mx tbr !itomiIng of Fnn WuhiiigtonCl7:ft>*od 
of EUiAbolKtAirn (t;7^)- Ha wm wounded fci Spnngftcld (MAoachuietu) in 
JuBC^ ijRo. PTOmofi^ ihfnuicb the varioiis njiks, he was mAdc a kj^*' oide-ile- 
CAmp of ihr king and Id lurn 1 colonel (February ig, 177a). maJar-jTEnpriLl (No' 
^Peni1>n flo, 17^1), and gentraJ f Jtouftry 1. i!4ai)' tie b«rtmc buonvt of AndocK 
OQ hu brutbei*! dculh, Jul^ '^1 >7V9- T^cvenl Itliaub bi»Iijrun» Mranp;cW fjci' 
■tat in kilUnfl Stprling in 1765* »bnrtly nftpr hf tmik nnnmjind m Pnri Ch»rtrr<. 
S«e iHclMUfy 0/ 4^olumal Biography; and /^jieiMWfUi MfnJtw b* Vahmai Mil' 
t^y al Nev Krft. vU. p, 78^. 

Ltculecftnl'CiibnFl Jnhn WiUdoHH Appotoird caplain of the $^Xh Utal (1755) 
and itv^n major {i^f^i), Fonmaridrd 11 Niagan, In rjft^^ whi\t marrhing to 
tcUcTc Detroit, ht mn Attacked by Indima and forced aftrr Hravy louci to rcUvAt 
ti> Fan Sfhkuur. Ldter. ht made an uraucctasful aticnpi by wntr, hut ««» 
caught in a diiaitroua tiom. Iti Au^at, 1764, WiUdn« w»t promoted to the 
majorvhip <Ff tbv 6clh, «nd in tbr follonririg J^nuan^ ir» appointed fjVutcnant' 
oolond of ihr [S(b Koyol Irish niLh srvrn companicri. tn May. 176SH hp TUt 
ordar«d from PUladerphla 10 Fori Pltl, and th«n<« lo Fon Chftrtrei. Hli admin* 
ilUaCkin waa UD{wpulai» and gra*v cbarfcci — notablr mikappiDprution ol Lamt 


Flagg's Far fyejt 


monthly at the fortress; but iheir decisions were very [ll 
Rcch'cd by a people who, until then, had been released 
from all but arbiirary rtatriction.** 

The original form of Fort Chartres was an irregular 
quadrangle, with four bastions; the sides of the exterior 

xnA fuorlt — WTT« brou^t tgalnii him Hf wu tuipPiMtol In in*> *'* ***' 
lor EviTjpe ihx foUowiog yev, uid tithe* divd ar i^ ttic vfftf <I775)- Sr< 

*; iV«f Vart. wiii, p. iftj — Kn. 

*3ubjoJiia) is t nt\rj of tbc prdlmiiLflry pmnliaEa of ihe £ist rrfpiUr court 
of jvitiot hrld in lUiruMi vhllr andcr the Bnliib i^VMUEkeOl^ II puiportB m be 
tr«a*c*lbv>d from Ae «tatc recotdj. *Tid Bnl itppcued in » Western newspiper. 
U kyii brfor* the rtailrt & vlrn of lh« vubjrcl which itiF ehohI gnpliic dnciiptlon 
votild fill to pmtnt. 

"At 4 Cvurt held at OflAUmKS VUUffC, id Ihe Ulinoia, this ^Ah 4mj ot Sq- 
^"cmber, la tite dgbib yr*i of Uu t^a vt oui EwwrrigEi L#onl, Gcot^ the Third, 
br tba p«e« o! C«d. of Cn*t fiiiuia. Knocc^ Kod tnUod, ICicig) Dtftndfc 
of tbc Pdth, Ac-, &IC-, Ax. I in lb« ri»f of our Lord ChriM ooe thouund icvca 
bnndm] aad iixEj-<djihi. r7AA, 

"Pment, G«(v^ Morgtn, June* It^eury, JaEa«i Cuopball, Juhh U'MiUir. 
JeAA Bftp^iit BuWau. And Pdfr (aiiiudaL. H^iirLn funtk-fn- Ctiriiuuuiunk of the 
^uar irsnfrd Jj^f John WlUir^, V.v[t-. Oovrtnor Ami CirniiuinrliiiH of lh» Mid 
CPWUrfi *ad dincGpil io lUr gentlemen ouiihI. wvtv pri3dac«d and r«ad. 

"WLompoQ tbc Hid JiuiiLd riiuk the bevenkL tnU)u oi Allirgtanoe to bU 
Viaiatf% p«nan »ik1 |{i>Y4>riiniriiE. md jUmi rhe unlhA nf JiuMlif^ o| the pearr ; 
which oathi w«rt adininj«trr«4 to Cham bjr th« GovvraoT aid Comrnandant afor*- 

"A commlHiDD from the Kid Covpnuir to DprmU M'Croghan. Esq., ra ba 
Sheriff ol Uie oountr* aforeaaid, wa* produced by the lald Dtnnia KTCroghAn, 
C>q^ and read, vhcj totik and sMlw:rJIxd lh« uaiial oaths of allegiance to bia 
Mn|n<x'9 7«mn and covtmnwnt, and also thi- rwti of shmQ (nr ^r] cnuTitTy. 

"The Covemor and Camnunduit aforeaaid calfrrd into a rccof^nizimcv Jn Cha 
Mm cdfivc hundred pounds Uirf at money of Great Oritala florthcAaidSherififtdde 
pRinrmanrr of hA f^fTif^." 

|I wrtjld appear fmm the EQlLovinj: clead, made by a miiila^ tergrQnt. eEecuting 
the of&ce of ihoiff undci the style of Frovpsi under ComnkandAnt Hui^h Lord, in 
l)7i» that the govemmtnt In lltlncli wa£ then fnir^ly miiUary. 

"Be it ruPMrnbcred that on thia oinettcath day ol Dotember, in the year of 
ourXfOcd onf thoutiuid Ktcn huiHlrcd aod xve»L)r-two, hy virtue u£ a writ 
tinto me iUrpctwl, 1, Andrew Hoy. Pmrafli, did b^Jtc, lery, and dktrsin upon iha 
dwiUing'hou*e and bt of John Baptist Uutordeau, Bitimttd in th« village of 
Kuliukia, (ot A debt due ai per note of hand* oi the uxruLure of the aforeaafd 
Hiibarilrm. for the tiiin of two thouaand and forty livrti. with Interen a.nd 
damtfit. Kow, know ye, that tbc afortMid writ of F$rri Faeiat waa iaiued by 



So Earfy fVestem Travels (VoL 7y 

polygon being about five hundred feet in extent. The 
ditch und scarp were con:imenc<:d, but left uncompleted. 
The walis, maisivcly constructed of stone, and stuccoed 
with lime, were upward of two feet in thickness and fifteen 
feet in heif^ht. They still retain this altitude in some por- 
tions which are uninjured; and many of the loopholes 
and the porta for cannon, in the face of the wall and in the 

Hugh Lord, Kiq , Capliin Id hb Usjcaty't tSth or Rcjjd Ke^meot «d Inland, 
in Duonw >xk1 form foUirwiitK; 

"Oronr Ihr T!iird, by tbr srUf of <k)di of On*t BritaEtii FTsnCF* And Trtt- 
UfK), KiDKi IW'-hilvr o\ (hf Fuih, ftc. 

*'T<i StrKc^nt Hoj, Pppvoff. 

"We (iiiDAiaruI yoij thai you uu>e lo be made of the (goodij and cballeti of 
Jahn Bipttai Hubardt-au. la your bailiwiekn (wo ibouaaAd laJ furiy Ittwi, irhich 
Franks & Comfaay* Ukly, in our court, Wfut dh ai Kaaluskia^ rr^iivTrccI againM 
hlni bj vliiTjt of a ponvr of ailorarf , foi a debt, with lavlul Jcterf9l< and dama^n 
whkh they have auilaiiwd.orcauoned aa well bj the detaimng o( the uid debt* at lor 
tbdr cxperun and onta by than laid out in and aboui tkdr adt in that behalf, 
whm^if tlw Hubardcau b cnavictcdj ajid liavc yiju lLf mciary brfoir lu at 
iCaakaikia at IpOOH aa the aale nf laid efTecti ahall admit, lo nnder to the aaid 
Fraoka A Company tbdv debt and damaKci aforcioidi and hare Ihea there lM> 

"Givan at Fort Gage, thJ4 igib dayof Dr^fAhrr. T771. 

"HtJOi LotD, Coauuaadani of lUinoJa- 
"AJiDltW llOY, Pformt 

" Uonover, Ibal in n>nff<iivnrp of fuitht^ ordm from thp r<iinTnand&Bt ifw^ 
tud, I did give geoerat notice ol tbc aale thereof by the loUowio^ adveRtMUDtj 
which AiB publicly pUlcU far pcnual and kaovlolgc of iJic inhabitan;^ in gcnenJ* 
both here and at the vlUaeu of Cabo? 

"VfndTedl, k onac beur du MatJo Ir aglh d\i nu^ prochaln. lera venclu au 
potte de L'EgliM, la Uaiion r\ Terrain du Sifur Jean Baptist Ujbardeau, qui 
cU puis en cjcfculian, payable en FtUelrici Bon Ai^nti Icttic^ dc change, ou U 
boa eHclavca. daos le moi dc Mai qui vieni. 
"Au iLaa,' I)«cembre v^ (i^] th. r7y>. 

*'A)t:>u« Hoy, Provoat. " 

Making alTowAacea lur bad Ficnih. the fgllowiot tia t jantlaiioa of (bia notice: 

"Wtdoetfiay. at eleven o'clock tn the laornina of the agth of neat month, 1 
ahall kU al the kaIc of the church, tbc Houjo add lot of Mi^ Jeao Dapthl Uub«r< 
■ Okhohla, 


Fhgg's Far fFest 


flanks of the bastions, are yel to be se^n entire. The 
'd^antly dressed freestone, however, which [i86] was 
employed about Ihcm, as weU as for the cornices and 
casements of ihe galfr and Uiilditigs, has long since been 
removed. Specimens are to be seen incorporated in some 

dcAU. wUcb ia lAken in cxtcvtion, ptv kbta id pf IE^'* P^ vlvcr, Ub of «ich&n|t«, 
or >a xpod BliTcOk in the moaih of May oominK^ 

*'EiskAtkift. Def. t^Ih. 1771 " 

"At the cipir«CiOin of vhLck Unc, iht AfortMiid bouM vtajk, afprrcilile to law* 
Jiutkc. Aad t^uiCT, CEpovvO tu vaIt, lii«t ai tht ibuivh ipu, vid ^rtrrvirdi at 
dUf'pppnt pftTU fif ihf vilbigp, fn prvvrnt ■« miirh hi pouiNr, tn* |::^rvmt ^Irading 
ipioiaocc of the sdJe ihnrof, Now» know yc. In diachor^ of the duly of ra^ 
offcc uiJ tkc uu»l (ci>i«nl, ■ftrr hi^iug kcjit up lIic HiU buux niid lut ftvm the 
baun of l«n in im «t tbctunol ^lecfiorfj, Aod tu pmnn hlddiAg hlghrf, ur Ukdf 
•> to do, thAl the ufliv w*« iiiuck off to /uiu« R«si«riy, uihabtant of KAakMki«« 
iriiOr W dmc pic^rnt^ \\ iavstcd with full d^t aad title therttOt to h^ve «Jld 
to bold [hf uld mnni^ lod leimnenU^ and iN And gn^tar ol lb? pnfnliet 
■bovv mfniioncif aod every fiart «rid puic«] thETtof, Mdlh the appufieiuncei unto 
ibc nJd Jima Krmsry. bU bdrg and uaign^ lurevci: uid I. thr said Andrnr 
Rf^, Pnnost, frmn my«elf mv bein. tht taid mf^aiiage and IfnFtnenE actl pnrn- 
iAM and every fiul thcnof kgaiml him and his hnn, lad a^ainft all aikd vrtrf 
oUici ^icn^D lUhl pF(?fic« whatever, to th? uiJ Juuci Rcmacy. hi> bdi« uid as- 
tfpui ih*ll ahd will w*fTftru and r^rttfr dtfenri hy ihoe prwnl«- In •ilnev 
yAitnoi i have herraaw V9% my hand and sraJ- 

"Fon Gap, i^th DM', 177*. 

"SlgArd, leaJed. aod deUvettd Id pte*cacc of 

''Isaac Joh^jbok-" 
"Qjr ^4nu* of lli« povcr ojul authaiity in at ioTefltedp 1 do hereby gn.nL uiit9 
Hr> JatDra Rcmiryp btc licul* of bii Majctfy'i jd^h Rr^m^al, a «itaia mux 
Of land coDlalAing — acrrt in pirt iraa tht riT» Kuknilcfa to ih? Miuiuippl, 
oaca dv pfop w ty of on« I^ BacdLou, wbertoa fonnerly did Btand a yr\Wt mill, 
lhiliaDaillg«d which arc nawlobf xtd, ThcwWclKingAgitrj.hletaTiisM^jfBty'ft 
pvodmatkn, conliiratFd ^> thp Kinic, Atid 19 hereby' gti«n ic aid Jump* RpmEry. 
1a coiuUfraticA oi Hli EvcUenfy Gen^ Cage's rKDitun^ndation and for the 
»liecdy y^Umjcnt of hla icinJEsty'a coKmy. ba [jjicivite (hv fruuc ul a lujuse with 
a lot of lADd thoRinlo apprrUininit opposLle Ihe JuuH's College In thr Tillage 

"Given umlei my band* at Foil Chaitrcs^ Not. ijth, 1767, 

"Capl. j4lb n«1m«at." 
This (innt of Usd wbeic thc'^Ci "lifj stoodi is now the site of a vpeculaliTO 
vUy raUf<] "Dtioign*," and is about five miln from KnskaKkia on tb« rosd ia St« 
LouU. — PljUMh 


Sfl Early fVatfm Travels fVoI. a; 

of the eleg&nt stnictures which have ^ce gone up in the 
ndghbouring city." 

Th€ miiitaiy engineering of the early French fortifica- 
tions in North America was of the school of Vauban; and 
the masjyve structures then erwtcd are now monumenis, 
not less of the skill of their founders than of departed time. 
The abnost indestructible character of their masonry 
has long been a subject of surprise. The walls of Fort 
Chartrcs, though half a crntury has s(.*cn ihcm abandoned 
to the ravages of the elements and of lime, yet remain 
fio inipcrishablc, that in some instances it is not easy 
to diatinKuish the limestone from the cement; and the 
neighbouring villagers, in removing the materials for the 
purposes of building, have found it ahnoGt impossible 
to separate them one from the other. 

The buildings which occupied the square area of Fort 
Chartres were of the same massive masonry iis the walls. 
They consisted of a commandant's and commissary's 
residence, both noble structures of stone, and of equal ^ze: 
two extensive lines of barracks, the magazine of stores, 
with vaulted cellars, and the c^^ps de guarde. Within the 
gorges of the eastern bastions were the powder- magajstne 
and a bakehouse; in the western, a prison, with dungeons 
and some smaller buildings. There were two sally-ports 
to the fortification in the middle of opposite faces of the 
wall; and a broad avenue passed from one to the other, 
directly through the square, [189] along the sides of which 
were ranged the buildings. A small banciucttc a few feet 
in height ran parallel to (he loopholes, for the purpose of 
elevating the troops when discharging musketry at an 
enemy without 

" Flftgg^i <It»afpckin *vtt9 in Ute majn with that gNcn L^ Thi.\i\t Pfttmmn 
(i«r duff, p, 77. nate $31, uve ttuil the lafti^r U mnrr ^rullftil. Ju^lgici^ fmm 
the phnj^obsyr y^gg Ta\iM hftve tcftd Pltlm^n^t dutriptiaa, — £d. 


FU^i Far Wm 


PM For CkanR» ■ dw pride ol ks cailjr priow; 

of ptMtr* ImM^, nd tMle; tbe pl h eriag - n m 
of al the Ekfik, and beauC7, aad fsduoo tfar fj tfw i n c e coaU 
tfacB bocA Umy a time, doDbtkm, haTe tbe walb of 
Mt WfB old diadd imk id tke note of rerdry; and the 
%K tvU^ faotftep of the dark-gvd Creole has beat 
Id wimm ^rAk a bean t hf obtia g in hOer guab from tbe 

of tbe joaaiE, naittal fiffvv at ber ride! Foct 
ii in culy jnan, waa doobdev aoc auce the 
of arbkialioo aad role thao of gmtStf 
aad ftiqortte Tbe irtdcn of tbr early Frendi village*, 
themJh masj of tbcni indigCDl, were doc aU of tbem rude 
MO Micme^ Iflduced by iiitkffntlfw of mtald nakht 
■IB aa had oovsed tbe adTCnCiiFen of Spam in fbe eoon* 
cm aectioa of the Weatero Cootineat, grants and daiteii 
of fa mwic tracts of lemtory to tbcae remote regioos had 
been made b^ the <T<7ini of Fiaaee to n^Mikabfc ivtmd^^ 
aDd thai tbe leaders in these golden enlerpfftses were ges- 
cfaDy gentlenKO of educatioii aDd talent, whose manneis 
had been formed within the precincts o( St. Cload, then 
tbe mott elegant court io EunDpc. Many of these en- 
thosMftic advoiiurrrs, it b trrie, n-tumcd to France in 
diqipotDtinent and disgust; and many of tbem remomi 
to the more genial latitude of Longer Louiaiua: [190] jet a 
tew, astontshfri at the fertility and extent of a oountry of 
wUch Ibcy had never dreamed before; delighted with the 
wiety and di^kacy of iu fruits, and reminded by tbe mfld- 
ness of the dtmate of tbe sweetest portions of tbetr own 
beaitfiful Prance, preferred Io remain- Bj tbe present 
Jcynente race of rillagers, those earti' days are refefied 
to OS t "gt^en sge" in their history, and tbe ''old 
rcvdenters" as urmdcrftU beings. Consider the singulir 
ntoation of these men — a thousand miles bom die 
Adantk shores, surrounded by savages and by ibeir own 

E^rfy ffejxan Trmxh 



UUUi fl ClWlllltMlrf J of OvntRI WUtt Jd£ IliyiPI' 

A the Fnacfa army vcn ai thai en, ioo» axve 
Am at pRieMp oc i : i< a i I7 oa o< tjetam and Enfocma- 
tioo, wfaae the CaiMfic|«ttbood witeqpMi^dMafBri^ 
lor Ikcivry attuncnt. Coder cimflHiiBDei Be t fc*^^ 
il Qtho' ihni vstnnl tfasi rcci p r o chy of facfing and 
of '""^^ should bate *^^* rifc* their gratificatioa 
lif natoal aad fc*y*"* ktertoDnc? Fon Chaitres inaat, 
BBtfatr, bare been the vat of hospitalirv. rrtJEnnw cde- 
tadoD, aad kjDdly fedine. Hm the dcshy old AoMMf 
of the fkei^ibooniig villages dosed avaj maor ao hour 
of aobcr )ovialaca« with their "droti^ity cmiies '^ ovo' 
the pipe and the daret of thek own vio^fanla; while Ihcir 
darit-baind dau^juoi Helped vm^ OB the grees nmd 
bdort them tc the bahn; mooolh sommcr eve with the 
graoeftil officers of the fonrrss. 

Here, too, has bcra vHtnesEed "^^^'''"g of "the pride, 
and pomp, and drcumftance of ^orious war." [191] The 
fkm-d€4is of the Fifteenth Loab has rolled out its heavy 
folds above the^c fuem old towen; the crimsoa Uoo erf 
En^acd has succeeded; and the smpes and stais of our 
own republic have fioated over both in triumpb. The 
momiDg gun of the fortress has boomed across the broad 
pTairic, and been reverberated from yoDder clifli: the merry 
reveille has rose upon the eariy bree2e, and wakened the 
shamberiDg echoes of the forest; and the evemng bu^e 
from the waUs has wailed its loi^^rawn, melancholy 
Dote along those sunsel waters of the Eternal River { 

Sucb. I repeal, was Fort Charties in its better days, 
b«i such is Fort Chaitres no more, I lingered for hours 
with saddened interest around the old ruins, untU the 
long nuaty beams of th<* setting sun, streaming throi^h 
ttc focea, reminded me that I had not vet secured a shcl- 


FJagg'j Far fyett 


ter for the coming DighL Rfrmotinting my horse. I \ti\ 
the spot al a brisk pace, and a ride of a fev.- mJk^ brouKhl 
me to a dwelling »tualed upon a moutid somewhat clcv&ted 
from the low, flat bottom-Und around, about one mile from 
the Mtsfibsippi, anc] conirikanding a view of thi; distant 
lake and bluffs to the north. Here, then, I af?ix the name 
by which is known all the sunounding region, 
fort Ckariru, lU, 


^I kam AM fccTw the inilh flMjr baj 
I tril ihr tal» IB (Aid nn mer 

* Pridr, pomp, And drmatftan cf g k riw ii irai, " 

FoKT Chartsfj; ha<« already detained mc longer than 
was my design. My pen has been unconsciously led on 
from Item to item, and from one topic to another; and 
now, in leaving this celebrated forlrtss, I cannot forbear 
alhiding to a few incidents connected with its origin 
attd early history, which have casually presented themselves 
to my notice. Selection is made from many of a similar 
character, which at another time and in a different form 
may empto)' the writer's pen. The concluson of my 
last number attempted a description of the spot from 
whkll it was dated; and, reader, a beautiful spot it was, 
baieath the mix, gentle radiance of a summer evening. 
Not soon, 1 ween, shall I forget the wild romance of that 
moonlit scene as I reclined upon the gray old bench at 
the door of the farmhouse after the evening meal was 
ovrr, and Ustmed to the singular events of which that 
region had been the theatre in other days, \fore than 
forty years had seen mine host a resident of the spot, 
and no one, with diligence more cxemF^ary [193] than his 

86 Earfy IVfstem Travelt [VoL 37 

Own» had gatiierdd up the curious legends of the place, 
many of them from aged mea who had ihemselves been 
witnesses of the events they chronicled. By these tradi- 
tions, whatever may be our inclination to yield them cre- 
dence at thU late period, the origin and history of Ihe 
fortification of Fort Chartres is by no means dex'oid of 
interest. In 1720, when il was resolved on by the crown 
of France to erect a fortress at this point upon the Mis- 
si<i^'ppi, in continuation of her tide of posts uniting Que- 
bec with New-Orleans, and for the defence of her colonics, 
a military cnj^ncer of the school of the celebrated Sebastian 
Vauban was sent over to project and accomplish the dc* 
^gn.*' To his own diiscretion, within prescribed limits 
— so ROCS the story — was confided the whole under* 
taking. Ffir and wide throughout the province resounded 
the note of preparation. The peaceful villager was sum- 
moned from his pipe and his plough; the din of steel and 
Stone broke in upon the solitudes; and at length, at the 
enormous expenditure of nine militons of livres, arose 
Fort Chartres; and it^ battlements frowned over the forests 
and cast their shadows along the waters of the BtenuU 
Riverl The work was completed, and fondly believed 
its architect that he had reared for his memory a monu- 
ment for the generations of coming time. A powerful 
battery of iron ordnance protruded from the ports, and 
every department of the fortress was supplied with the 
most extensive munitions of war. A large number of 
cannon for many years were laying beneath the walls 
of the fort, in the early part [194] of the present century, 
buried in matted vines and underbrush. The fortress 
was completed, and the sUvcr lilies Soated over the walls; 
but the engineer had far exceeded the limits prescribed 
In erecting a work of such massive and needless strength, 
*' tUUUw to Fon Cbvim, mc antt, y. 7%, noie %*>. — Ed- 


Flagg's Far Wat 


and a misiive royal suimnoned him lo Si. Cloud. The 
miserable man, aware that little was lo be hoped from 
the clemency of the warlike Loul3 XV., poisoned IiimAcLf 
upon arriving in hk native lani], lo e<ca|>e the indignatkiii 
of hi* sovereign. Previously, however, to his departure 
for France, immense sums in gold for defraying the 
expenses of the fortress had been forwarded him lo 
Nevr Orleans and sent up the river, but, owing to his 
subsequent arrest, were never distributed to the labourers. 
Tradition avcrrcth these vast treasures to have been buried 
benealli the foundations of the fort. However the truth 
may be, the number of those who have believed and searched 
has not been inconsadcrable: but unhappily, as is ever the 
case with these " hidden treasures," the hght has gone 
out just at the critical moment, or some luckless wight, 
in his zeal, has thouj;ht proper to sf€4ik just as the barrel 
of money has been struck by the mattock, or some other 
untowan! event has occurred lo dissolve the charm of the 
witch-hazel, and to stir up the wrath of those notable 
spirits which are always kno^^'n to stand guard over buried 
gold! And thus has it happened that the treasure yet re- 
poses in primeval pestce; and (he big family Bible, always 
conveyed lo the spot on such inquisitorial occa^ons, has 
alone prevented consequences most [195] fatal! Whether 
the good people of the vicinity in the present unbelieving 
generation have faith lo dig, I know not; but, when I visited 
the spotf the earth of the powder-magazine lo which I have 
alluded exhibited marvellous indication of having been 
disturbed at no distant period previous* So much for 
the origin of Fort Chartres. The story may be true, it 
may not. At all events, it will be remembered I do not 
endorse it. 

There is abu a tradition yet extant of a stratagem of 
war by which Fort Chartres was once captured, worthy 


Btrfy B^tiUrn Trawli 


Uk genius of Fabiua Maximuft, and pailaking. more- 
orer, fonwwlttt of Unovy id chancier- Tbr name of 
Ccoige Rogen Cteric* k hmSir to every one wlio cu 
date even fadiSeniu acquainunce with the carir border 
warfare of tbc West This Grtraonlirary man, banig 
MiiAed Unndr, like Huotbtl of Caitliagir, dm the ody 
wajr de d rffe lf lo coaqoer a crafty afid powerful foe was 
by carrytog tlw war to his own altars and hearths, placed 
hinuKlf al the bead of a few hundred of the Virgmta militia 
bi 1778^ and art forth upon one of tbe most daring enter- 
prises ever chronicled on tbe pa^ of mtlitaiy history — 
tbc cckl^ratcd czpcditioQ against the distant post of Fort 
Vincent, now Vincennefi. Otir country was then at war 
m-ith Great Britain, and this fort, togrtber with those upon 
the lakes and the Mississippi, were in possession of the 
CDciny and their aragc allies. Colonel Clarke crossed 
tfw mountains with his little Land; descended the Monon- 
gabela and the Ohio to within mty miles of the mouth 
of [196] the latter, and there concealing hb boats, he 
plung»l with hw followers through swamps, and crceka, 
and marshes almoHt impassable, a distance of one hundred 
and thirty miles^ and in a space of time incredibly sfaort^ 
airived at mp;ht opposite the village of Kaskaskia. So 
overwhelm tag was the suqirisr, that the town, though 
fortifiod, was taken without a blow. History goes on to 
tell us that a detachment of troo|>5, mounted on the horses 
of the country, was immediately pushed forn-ard to sur- 
prise the villagt^ of Fort Charlres and Cahokia, higher 
up the Mississippi; and that they were all taken without 
rcsbtance, and the British power in that quarter completely 
destroyer]." So much for History, now for Tradition- 

Ctmmtmt fry Ed n«g|'i tutlurnly fi Jiua« l£ilL, Skti<h9t 0/ littlcrf, U}», 


Fiagg'j Far fVtit 


When tbe little band arrived beneath ihe walU of Fort 
Chartres, the numben of the garmon far exceeding those 
of the be^egers, the Utter, as if in despair of success, shovdjr 
took up the line of march and disappeared behind the 
distanV bluffs. Day« passed on; diligent examinatpon 
of the heights was kept up with glasses from the vails, 
but DO enemy returned. At length, when apprehension 
had begun to die away, early one morning a troop of 
cavalry appeared winding on-r the bluffs, their arms 
^txttering in the suntif^ht, and descended from vie%' appar- 
ently into the plain beneath. Hour after hour the march 
cxntinued; troop after troop, battalion upon battalion, 
re^mmt after re^^ment, vith their ranous ensigns and 
h^ifliments of warfare, appeared in lengthetKd files, 
voood over the blufis, and disappeared- Alarmed [197] 
and astonished at the countless swanns of the invaders, the 
garrison hastily evacuated the fortress, and for dear life 
and liberty, doon placed the broad Mississippi between 
themselves and the cloud of locusts! Hardly was this 
precipitate mancEUvre well accompUshed, when the alarum 
of dmm and fife was heard, and the identical force which 
but a few days before had raised the siege, and in despair 
had retreated from Ivnealh the walls now paraded through 
the open sally-ports, their rags and tatters fiuttering by 
way of "pomp and drcumstance" in the evening brc€2e. 
This fortunate rus€ du gucrrt had been accomplished 
through the favourable nature of the ground, a few extra 
stand of colours manufactured for the occasion, and a 
variety of imiforms and arms of like character. After 
winding over tlie blufTs into the plain beneath, they again 

is 1779. and nn* atrwtr ftgiis tned u ■ gurtgon, Th^ l^g^nd gi<nn bf Fla^ \% 
Liumnriol The French Kltlrmfnts ■di4c<nt b> y**h*>VU mMMIj 
Iba ricotdnn □□ bdng Invtinl by Ctart'i rpprr^rm^rtTo, nto «en 


Barly WtiUm Travtlt 


MccpQcd tluuu^li ft dcsiC QDObsaTcd uy tbc g&ntsoOt 
uHj OBcc more ft|]|icu'ra lo ififfcfcut ptisc ftnd oni^ tn 
rear ot ibefr comndes- ^Dtaance,'* too, cut doabdess 
DOl a Uttle "cnctftotmmt" ov«r "the view;" ftsd thai the 
(ear ftad titpidftrton of tbc wtirtiir gunaon pcobmUjr 
shaipcDed tfaeir optics to drt^i all ibe pfrO in store 
tor tfacED, ftnd. percfaance, somevhat more. Now, reader, 
yoa can do as yon choose toocfaing belief of aO this. And 
while yoo arc ma Wing rxp a dcosioQ od the pointy permit 
mr to fumfib yti aiiDCbcr scrap of HisSorj, which may, 
petadventure, aabt 

For axteen days was CoL Qaike eci p lo y ed in his march 
Inm Kaitai^'* lo Mncenocs, alter the [19S] capture 
ot ibe miStarj poOs upoa the HiaosippL At length, 
after toils iacrediUe, be reached the Waba^ Bi^ 
itpoo tbc eastern bank, its base swept by the roUtng flood* 
siood Fort Vincent, the Bntbh fortress, at that period 
prgiynwl by ft soperioT cofps of soldicfj, With an aux* 
Sary farce of « hundred Indian wanioffs, and under 
the ootmnand of a skilful o&cer. Got. Hamillon, On the 
■eB te m bank waa qvrad out a broad sheet of aDuvion nve 
to fareaddi, cornpl^elT mandated by the s wo fleii 
After five days of totl thk wiktcnicas of watm 
was passed; the ro&bg onrenl of the Wabash was croaacd 
in the oi^it and the monwg 9Bq befaeU these daring 
BA bcfof« \lDcennes. As tbnr approw ch ed the town — 
hMoty goes od to relate — ov^ the fanad and be autifJ 
pmrie upon wikidi it stands^ at the moment his troops 
voe dboovcred by Ac enemy, Clarke foand hbisdf near 
a sbmI ftDdcni moond, wtddi co nce aled part of his force 
ten die foe. tender diis covert be coontenoaicbcd Us 
men tn so skilfn} a manDcr> that the leading hies, which 
bad been seen &ocn the town, were transfemd undiacor- 
ered to the rear, and made to pass again and again fai 


FUgg'j Far fF^st 


t^igbt of the en«my, u&tti his whole force had several limes 
di^Iaycd, and hh littte dcftachment af judcd troops 
usumed the appearance of an extended column greatly 
superior to its actual strength. The garrison w>« promptly 
summoned to surrender, and, after a brief defence. Gov. 
Hamilton struck his flag to a body of men not half as 
powerful as his own>" 

[199) Next in imp>0Ttance to Fort Ch&rtres. of that chain 
of mililftry po%ls commenced by the French in the Valley 
ot the Missi^ppi, was Fort du QtncsMK;" and of this 
celebrated fortress, so notorious In the bloody annals of 
border warfare, it may not be irrelevant, in concluding 
the present subject, to add a few sentences- This post 
was erected on that low tongue of land, at the head of the 
Ohio and conltucncc o{ the Alleghany and Monongahela 
riverB, where Pittsbui^h now stands, commanded on all 
sides by lofty bluGb. It was built by M. de la Jonquier, 
at command of the Marquis du Qucsne, Kovcmor of 
Canada, In 1754 the bold Contrtcocur came down the 
Alleghany, with a thousand Frenchmen in cajioes, and 
eighteen pkces of artillery; and, dispersing the small colo- 
nial force. intfLTichcd himself upon the spot- This was the 
prologue to that bloody drama, the catastrophe of which 
dcpnvul France of all her possessions east of the Missis- 
b{(^ In 1758 Fort du Quesne was taken by Gen. Forbes: 
a moK scientific and extensive fortress was erected on 
the spot, at an expense of sixty thousand pounds sterling* 

Crmwtei^ h Bi- Cocnpsn vilb R- O. TbwftiLo* Hw Gtarge nflftrt Ckrk 
tHufAfl \trfkwisi. pp. 51-4^4. 

•• A km »*» be(un by Clmrtei Tfrnt, with » ft« VinpnU Inxrj4, in TtXrrMvyt 
■f(4' On April i^. Cflntrwirar tuot ih* pUc?, rrin»plrtM ihr fort, btuI CMfDcd 
k DvvHPW m Iwnoc cf the Uscfl governor ol Nrw ^■r■nf•, S** Croghm'i Ja^- 
mlib fa oar wduiM i, p- S5, tioic 45. abu i'-A- MkbAui'* Trmf^i laovi voluiu 
B, p. 156^ note JO, — Ed. 

92 Earfy Wtsum Travels (Vol. t-j 

avt 10 boDoar of WiUiani Pin, then Premier of Engl^ind, 
mflMd Fort I^tt It is diffirah to coDceiTc what couM bavr 
been tbe design of these commaDder^ in erecting such 
8 masBve fortress on such a spot, unless to impress the 
minds of their smge btit mofkt n e ig hb o ur s; foricastance 
to artiDefy planlcd upon the pej gh bo tirin g heighta would 
have been quite as vain as any attack of the Indians upon 
its waQs with their primitive weapons. Tbe same may 
be said of l^oo] nearly all tbe cariy forti&catiocis in the 
West, and of ]4ome of more modem date upon our frontier. 
Subsequently Fort Pin came mto tbe possession of our 
government as part of the estate of the Penn family, and 
is now only a heap of rubbish. Thus much for early 
mHilary pcnts in the Vallcry of the Mississppi, 

So deeply interested was I in listenini; to the " le^ndary 
lore" afisodated with the spot upon which I was sitting, 
that hours glided unobserved away, and the hill moon 
was culminating in cloudless splendour Crom the zenith 
when we retired. 

Early the following morning i was in tbe saddle* Tbe 
heavy n^hl-mi:st5 lay wavering, like a silver^' mantle, 
all ov€r the surface of that broad plain; and the crimson 
clouds, rolling up the eastern sky, proclaimed the rising 
Am. Afti^ a short ride I reached the former site of St. 
Philippe, a settlement of the French, ^nce caQcd JMOe 
ViUagt. Its "common field" is now comf^ised in the 
Sb^ plantation of Mr. M'David. It was at this potnt 
that Philippe Francis Renault — from whom the village 
received its name, as wdl as a large section of the neigh- 
botiring region, known to this day as ^'Renault's Tract" 
— established himself in 1719, with two hundred miners 
from France, in anticipation of discovering gold and sflver.** 

* lUeaulE MOad fram Tmuv in 1719. hui did not r««A OUaoU mtH iTtli 
For A thort sketch «| RhhuIe, m* «iilf, p. 4», ute 1$. 

StFUlippe, fiTTimleaEramFattCWuaoat^rociltoCAlbakU, wvfounrlHl 



Flagg'i Far IVesl 


He was disappointed; but is said Co have obt^ed large 
quantities of lead from ibc rc^on along the opposite bank 
of the Missuisippi, in Ihff vicinily of Ste, (.ivnevte^e; and 
to have discowrcd, morcov-er, a copper mine near Peoria. 
St. PhOtppe was once a considerable village. Prcvioos 
to 1765^ when possession of the country was cUimcd 
(aoij by the English govcmment, and, like the other 
French settlements, tt was abandoned by the i-itlagers 
— il is sax) to have comprised twenty or thirty families, 
A Cfttfac^c church, and a water-mill; while the surround- 
ing nxadow aHonJed pasturage for extensive herds of 

Lea\*ing St. Philippe, the winding pathway in a few 
miles had conduclefl me info the depths of a forest of 
gigantic cotton-trees upon the left, encircled by enormous 
grape-rines, and the grotind beneath entangled by a wilder- 
ness of underbrush and thickets of wild fniit. In a few 
moments ihe forest opened une-^ectedly before me, and 
at my feet rolled on the turbid Roods of the Mississippi^ 
beyond which went up the tovk-ering clifis of limestone, 
hoar and raggedy to the sheer height of some hundred feet 
from the water's edge. They were the cliffs of Hercu- 
laneum, with their shot towers.*' For the first time 1 dis 
covered that I had mistaken my way. Perceiving the low 
kig<abin of a woodcutter among the trees, I had soon 
obtained che requidte information, and was retracing 
my steps; but a weary plod through the deep black 

afaaut Iff J by Rensuti, oa « Crut snurted to him in i^aj' PhiUp PiKman. who 
vliiEfd thr pLuc la 17M, vmlc ihjit iheic vpn nboui ^Hjcfei houKS iziri a vniU 
cburth Itft itAiidin|[, «)lhrtti|i^ lU thr ioliLbitiEics nvp ib» fiplmin of the miLtia 
bad ctatied the Uiftd^ppi the prercding ytu. tn iSoj, John Ensdt w th« 
tole khftULutt. — Ed- 

^fvt kKACMa ind settlempm tA llertulanvuiriH u* Mi^nmiliftn't Tr^vdt, Id 

out TOfcABM VjH, P' %il, QOIC IIJ; lot ihc ihot tOtVtf* tbCfTi SM OUT T^^ltDC IXvfi 

94 Early Western Travels [Vol. 37 

loam, and the 1<i1l grass weltering in the nighl-dews, and 
the thickets of the dripping meado\«-s, i^'as anything but 
agreeable. There were but few farms along my route, 
and the tenants of those with whom I chanced to meet 
betrayed too plainly, by their gh^^stly visages, and their 
withered, ague-racked limbs^ the deadly influences of the 
atmosphere they inhaled. As I wandered through this 
region, where vegetation, towering in all its rank [301] and 
monstrouii fomis, gave evidence of a soil tcxi unnaturally 
fertile for culture by man, whose bread must be bought 
by "the s^^-cat of his brow/' ] thought 1 could perceive 
a deadly nausea stealing over my frame, and that every 
respiration was a draught of the floating pestilence. I 
urged onward my horse, as if by flight to leave behind roc 
the fatal contagion which seemed hovering on every side; 
as if to burst through the poisonous vapours which seemed 
dlstilUng from every giant upas along my path. That 
this region should be subject to disease and death is a 
circumstance by no means singular. Indeed, it seems 
only unaccountable to the traveller that it may be inhab- 
ited Et all. A soil of such astonishing depth and fertility, 
vdled from the purifying influences of the sun by the 
rank luxuriance of its vegetation, in the stiSing sultriness 
of midsummer sends forth va&t tjuantities of mephitic 
vapour fatal to life; while the decay of the enormous v^e- 
tables poisons the atmosphere with putrid exhalations. 
Cultivation and settlement will, of course, as in the older 
states, remedy this evil to same extent in time. It is said 
that the southern border of a lake in this region is less 
unhealthy than the northern, on account of the prevalence 
of winds from the former quarter during the summer 
months; and that the immediate margin of a river, though 
buried in vegetation, is less liable to disease than the neigh- 
bouring bluSs, upon which hang the night and morning 



Flagg's Far IVtst 


rapours. A dry and somewhat ekv&fed spot is preferable 
to either for a cabin; and il should be well ventilated, and 
never closely surrounded by [203] cornfields. The rank 
and massive foliage shields the earth from the sunbeams, 
which exhale ite poisonous damps; and in its rapid growth, 
the plant abstracts from the surroundiDg atmosphere one 
of its vital ingredients. Indeed, most of the diseases 
peculiar to the West arc superinduced by imprudence, 
ijjnorancc, or negligence in nursing. Let the recent emi- 
grant avoid the chill, heavy night-dews and the wckening 
sultriness of the noontide sun; provide a close dwelling, 
well situated and ventilated, and invariably wear thicker 
dothing at night than in the day, and he may live on as 
long and as healthily in the West as in his native village. 
Bilious intermitlcnts arc the most prevalent and fatal 
diseases in the sickly months of August, Sq>tcniber, and 
October; and in the winter and spring pleurisies are fre- 
quent. The genuine phthisic, or pulmonary consump- 
tion of Ncw-Engiand, is rarely met. A mysterious disease, 
called the *'miik sickness" — because it was supposed to 
be communicated by that liquid — was once alarmingly 
prtvalcnt m certain isolated districts of Illinois.'* Whole 
villages were depopulated; and though the mystery was 
ofc^ and thoroughly investigated, the cause of the disease 
was ne\'er discovered. By some it was ascribed to the 
milk or to the flesh of cows feeding upon a certain unknown 
poisonous plant, found only in certain districts; by others, 
to certain ^rings of water, or to the exhalations of certain 

■ MiIk-tkka«A, no longer k dlt^nAwl by mtidle*! «ilTbarf1tei. U dHrrflvd 
V c«rly writm !□ thf Middle West as « miLig^niLnt divr&ae i^Oacklog both men 
ftnd ilodt- b wui suppoanl thjti llir (Uhuc wu (DQUacIrd by rating the 
Qf«h or dairv |>mdurii u| ucimaU ttiRt hail ^p-ued on a ctrtoin w«ed la the 
tttt of the human bolnft thr lymploms were Inhitef^blc thirst, ■btolute cOA- 
Mtpaiion, lov ipmprniiurc. an cKtrniu tirfn:iui niptatJvnt Uul «iUi aa flbseoce <i( 
<faiIU t&d hcwUchM. Viecovviy i«vai«<i lo bf lh# eT»ptinn. Although na ipe^ 


Early WfSitrm Travels 


Tike aojMf y sttasdtDg hs opcntiaDi usd ks 
tCTTifalc fabfity at one period ocaled a perfect panic in 
the scttkn; DOT was this at aU iraodofuL Tbe disease 
appears [S04J dov to be vantdiing. But, of aD otbcr 
tbr "fcTVT aod ague" is tbc scoargc o( the 
Not that it oftes tTrmfataffn CUaBy, except fay 
a ycots of 1 ifiiTiiii^r*^"'*; Ditt« wbcn severe 
and prDtra4:tcd, it oomplrtely shatters the comtitiitioo; 
aod, Ukc McsCDCim, tbe victiai cw after bean abott fafau 
a tmng death. In its li^itcr fann. most of die acttlecs 
at some time or other dpcrience it, as it is brou^ on hy 
cxposuTf: and »bcn 1 cocsidcT that, duriog my ramble 
ta tbe West. I hive ibjccted nqvdf 10 eveiy vahc^ of 
cHsttte and orniinalance; have been drenched by iii^it- 
drvs and mormng-dews; by the va[KiiJTS of marshes and 
forests, and by tbe torrents of Eummer shoaers; have 
w am fcrad day after day ow tbe endless prairies beneath 
a aeo Khing sun* and at iu dose have laid mysdf any- 
iri»r or mnrbar to rat; when I ccnsider thi^ I cannot 
boi wonder at the escape of a constitution natnraUy feeUe 
from complete prasttation. Yet never was it roorc ngor- 
aos than daring tins tour on tbe prairies 

At length, after a ride which seemed intemunaUe, I 
found mysdf at the foot of the bhiSEs; and, drawic^ up my 
horse, ^ipbcd at a cabin attached to an C3:tcnsiye fann for 

iiwi ilj 11 uk4. tbe bc3l ilhJu «vn Itii mhl lo be obtaiacd by JDdkioBfc 

Tlw^BfMai vtfv tWvvw w vicb im«. aad 4M4b lulfciijS, 
i^«rm^rj«. A Utm. wtgft t^ fc^afeJ ^JMMr bad eaae 

^ Tomtit mmm^ A« VftXWs «^ ^hiJm^ /b^mm. mc- 
(Nn Vofh. 114^1. p. 1^. rn ITlhw 11 Tiiib ■ iiiwiii tfcjriiha In riiri 
van ted bbd nuA * Tpg h »w vlrb nOk i^ffcrwa^ viDi» >b uOc^ ftdr Albwi 
a aac^ Jtr;U>«« ff«A«a a/ Jtf<di«at .Sana (New V«b« iiat-«7)*«Qln* ▼- 
AAAbKrantdiar febDweankJcbrBMdibtNtttaibecdhdBASv tgoa. — Ed- 



Fiagg's Far fVm 


rcfvohmenu A farmer of respecuble garb and mien came 
tottering towards the gateway; and, to my requestr informed 
tne that CKtrf iodividual of his family was ill of the "fever 
and ague." 1 inquired for the state of his own health, 
remarking his shoUertd appearance. " Yes, I am shattered," 
he replied, leaning heavily against the rails for support; 
"the agues and fevers have terribly [205] racked me; but 
1 am better, I am beUer now/' Ah, thought I, a.% returning 
his kind good-morning, I resumed my route, you think, 
poor man, that health will revisit your shattered frame; 
but that pallidness of brow, and those sunken temples, 
tell me that you must die. Consumption's funcra] fires 
veic already kindling up in the depths of his picidng eye. 
At the next cabin, where I was so fortunate a£ to succeed 
in obtaining refreshment, I was infonncd that the poor 
fdlow was in the last stages uf a decline brought on by 
undue exposure to the chill, poisonous nightdcws of the 
bottom. The individual from whom this infomiation 
vfTkA received was himself far from enjoying unintcmiptn) 
heallh^ thouf^ thirty-five years had seen falm a tenant of 
the spot upon which I met him. 
Monroe County, JU^ 


" Tin tatny twnau ago — > loni — ]ong tone." 

'* StWh, «ilr«l, <1^, ihr^ vtAiid; fhr not > gilr 
Ralli in lif^t biUo^Pi o>r Ifae bending pliJjii 
A ulru of plenty! tiU Ihc lulTlctl «£i 
FiIIa from tia podar, »ml give* rh* brrcu U> !>?'»«.*' 

In the course of my Journeying in the regions of the 
'^FAlt West," it has more than once chanced to mc to 
encounter individuals of that singular class commonly 


Early IViUem Traveh 

[Vol .7 

termed" Squatten;" those sturdy pioncrrawho formed the 
farlirst Amrncan fiHtlmirnts alonjf our wi<5trTn fronticT. 
And, In my casual Intercourse with tbem, I have remarked, 
with not a little surprise, a decision o( character, an acute* 
neu of penetration, and a depth arid originality of thought 
betrayed in their observational, siranf^tly enough contiaJrt- 
ing with the mde solitude of their life. For more than 
half a century, mayhap. Nature 

" Hid b«M 10 0iin ■ mr^n tuniHEr fsc* 

and whether, in the present ethibiiion of intrileciual energy, 
wc arc to claim an argument for the iniluencir of natural 
wrcnery upon character, or may find a corroboration of 
the theory of divcrrsaty of mental ability; or to whatever 
circumstance it may be attributed, [207] very assuredly 
it owes not its ori^n to the improvcmcnLs oF education 
or the advantages of society. There 19 also remarked in 
these rude men a suscq)tihilily and refinement of feeling, 
and a ddicacy of scatimcnt, which one would suppose 
hardly compatible with a protracted continuance of their 
semi-savage life. 

It was at the frugal though well spread board of an 
individual of this class that I was pleaded to find myself 
scatitl, after my tedious morning ramble of several hours 
through the weltering vegetation of the prairie. Mine 
host wa5 a man of apparently forty, though in reality some 
eight or ten year$ in advance of that age: his form, of 
medium stature, was ^mmetncal, erect, and closely knti, 
betm>Hng considerable capability of endurance, though 
but little of muscular strength: his countenance, at first 
sight, was by no means prepossessing; indeed, the features, 
while in repose, presented an aspect harsh — almost for- 
bidding; but, when lighted up by animation, there was 
discoverable in their rapid play a mildness which well 


FUg^i Far Wen 


cx>roparcd wilfa tbc beiicvolent expression of a soft blue 
cjre. StKfa was tbc physique of my backwoods picaiecr, 
who for fortj years had bren a wandmr on thr outskirts 
of dvilisatjon, and had ai lenj^h been overtaken by its 
nipid march. 

As I had before me but an easy ride for the day, f pn>- 
poeed to mine host, when our repast was over, that be 
shouki accompany ine to the summit of the nuige of bluffs 
which rose bdund his cabin, towering to tbc height of 
aevtral hundrpd fed above the roof. To this he readily 
assented, and w«;U did [208] the maRnlficeot view com- 
manded &om the top compensate for the toil of the ascent 
The scene was grand- ''Yonder," said my compankm, 
seating himsrlf on thcr earth at my side, and strrtching out 
his ann to the southeast, " yonder lies the \'ilLaKc of oU 
Kaakflskio, with the bluffs of the river beyond, rising 
against the sky; while a little to the left you catch the white 
cliffs of Prairie du Rocher- In chat heavy timber to the 
south are the ruins of Fort Chartres, and to the right, across 
the lake, fifty years ago stood St. Philippe. The Mis- 
sissippi is concealed from us, but its windingi^ can be traced 
by the irregular strip of forest which skirts its margin. 
Beyond the stream, stretching away to the northwest, 
the range of heights you view arc the celebrated comux- 
di(f$^^ above Herculaneum; and at intervals you catch 
a glimpse of a shot-tower, resting like a cloud against the 
sky, upon the tallest pinnacles. The plain at our feet, 
which is now sprinkled with cornfields, was once the site 
of an Indian village. Forty years ago, the ruins of the 
wigwams and the dancing circle surrounding the war- 
posl could be distinctly traced out: and even now my 
ploughshare every spring turns up articles of pottery 

"Two nb£e» of citfli «rc knrywri by IkEi ruune- Ooc 1* below Ste, Ceac- 



Early Western Tra'oeh 

[Vol 37 

which conslitul^ their domestic utensils, together with 
axes aiid malkts of stontr, spear and arrow heads and 
knives of flint, and all their rude instruments of war. Often 
of a fine cveiimg/' continued my companion, after a pause, 
'^when my work for Ihe day U over, and Lbe sun is going 
down (^09] in the west, I climb up to this spot and look 
out over this grand prospect; and it almost makes me sad 
to think how the tribes that once possessed this beautiful 
region have faded away. Nearly forty years ago, when 
I came with my father from old Vir^nia, this whole state, 
with its prairies, and forests, and rich bottoms, was the 
bunting-ground of the Indians. On this spot we built 
our cabin; and though I have since lived far off on the 
outskirts of the Missouri frontier. I always had an affection 
for this old bottom and these bluSs, and have come back 
lo spt;nd here the rest of my days^ But the Indians are 
gone. The round top of every bluff in yonder range is 
the grave of an Indian chief," 

While my singular companion was making these obser- 
vations, somewhat in the language T have attempted to 
give, interrupted from time lo lime by my inquiries, I 
had myself been abstractedly employed in thrusting a 
knife which was in my hand into the yielding mould of 
the mound upon which we sat^ when, suddenly, the blade, 
striking upon a substance somewhat harder than the soil, 
snapped into fragments- Hastily scraping away the loose 
mould to the depth of some inches, the fenrnr of a human 
celeton protruding from the soil was disinterred, and^ 
'ew minutes, with the aid of my companion, the rem- 
[ an entire skeleton were laid bare. Compared 
r own limb^ the bones seemed of a size almost 
; and from this circumstance, if from no other, 
evident that our melancholy moraliring upon the 
s of the Indians had been indulged upon a ver>* 



FUgg's Far Wfsf 


fittmg spot — [210] the grare of one of its chieftains. 
Originally, the body had no do«bt been covered to ibc 
flcpth of many («•(, and the shallownc^ of soil at the pr«- 
eni time indicates a lapse of centuries. St31 these graves 
of tbc blufis, which doubtless belonged to the ancestors 
of the present a b o ri giacs^ will neither br confotindtrd nor 
coRiparrd with the gigantic earth-heaps of the praines. 
Strangely enough, thi3 has been the case, though a moment's 
reflection must convince one that they are the monuments 
of » fiir later rure- 

Descending tbe bluSs by an ancient path in a ravine, 
Aitcf to have been made in conveying oak timber to Fort 
Chartres at the period of its erection, my host conducted 
me into one of the enclosures of his farm, a spot which 
had evidently once been the ordinary burial-place of the 
ancieDt Indian village. Graves, sufficient, apparently, for 
hundreds of individuals, were ycl to be seen upon every 
side. They were arranged parallel to each other in unifonn 
ranges, and were each formed by a rough slab of lime- 
atone upon either side, and two at the extremities, tcrmi- 
nating in an obtuse angle. From several of these old 
sepulchres we threw out the sand, and, at the depth of 
about four feet, exhumed fragments of human remains 
in various stages of preservation, deported upon a broad 
dab of limestone at the bottom. When taken together, 
these slabs form a complete coffin of stone, in which the 
body originally reposed ; and this arrangement, with 
the silidous nature of the soil, has probably preserved the 
remains a longer period than would otherwise have been 
the case. But the circumstance respecting [211] these 
ancient graves which chiefly excited my astonishment 
was their marvellous littleness^ none of them exceeding 
a length of four feet; and the wondrous tales of a "pigmy 
race of aborigines" once inhabiting the West, which I 


I02 Early Waum Travels [Vol- 17 

had often (istcned to. recurred with ccmsiderable force to 
my memory. Rcsolvrd to decide this long-mootcfl ques- 
tion lo ray own satisfaction, if possible, the earth from 
one of the graves, the most perfect to be found, was eica- 
rated with care, and upon the bottom were discovered 
the fetmtr and iibic of a skrlrton in a statr of toleraHe 
preservation, bcin^ parallel to each other and in immediate 
proximity. Proof incontestible. this, thai the remains 
were those of no Lilliputian race four feel in stattu-e, and 
aSording a fair prt^sumptton that ihe limbs were forcibly 
bent in this position at the lime of burial, occupying their 
stone cof&n much as the subject for scientific dissection 
occupies a beef-barrel. In this manner may we satis- 
factorily account for the ancient '*pigmy cemetery" near 
the town of Fenton, on the Merrimack in Missouri, as 
well as that on the Kiviirc des Fires, in the same vicinity, 
already referred to, and those reported to exist in various 
other sections of the West, in which, owing to the damp- 
ness of the soil, the remains have been long resolved to 
dust, and only the dimensions of the grave have remained." 
Among the articles which my host had procured from 
these old graves, and deemed worthy of preservation, wa5 
a singular species of pottery, composed, as appeared from 
Its fracture^ of shells calcined and pulverized, mixed with 
an equal quantity [212] of clay, and baked in the sun. 
The clay is of that fine quality with which the wateis of 
the Missouri arc charged. The vessels arc found moulded 
into a variety of forms and sises, capable of containing 
from a quart to a gallon." One of these, which my host 

*For furthn Inromitlon on dw pigmy rpmftny In tlu Mfnmer, •» our 
Tolume urvi, p. 105-^ Ed. 

■• Mr. Mint'a wmarlu Ktpcctlng [bt Anrlenl Pottery found in tbc W*<l cola- 
ddct BO wcU with ihc tuxilt M my ann more Uniilc<t obKTv«tioa, tlul E aubjan 
them In preferva^c lo extended dcvitpiiun myarlfs Ptrcrding ther mnAiks \a an 


Fhgg's Far Wfsl 


insEfited upon hanging upon the bow of my Spanish sad- 
dle as I mounted, was f^hion^ in Uie thape of a iurtU^ 
with the form and features very accurately mariced- The 
handle of the vessd, which was broken oiT, once formed 
a tapering tail to the aniina), presenting a rarr. specimen 
of a lurtle with that elegant appendage. 

Ascending the bluSs by a tortuous though toilsome path- 

IPttHiH ^ Bo4» ol Ihe UlUpuUui gnv« on Ihr Uotunu:. 10 wfalrh lUunaa 
fao ■t*aal tBK* brcB ra*de- 

" At the liav 'iit LillJvuUui gnvn orrr PhdiJ vii Ihc MrrritnK. Kn ilir muotjr 
«4 Si. Lfnift. flMBy pnpk ii«nr fnm that tovn 10 a^tufT thnr mriMiiy bf inq>ect* 
las dveo- ll ftppTAf* frcffa Ur^ Pv^k tlul ikc Rnvo wtrt numcrDitft; ttuL the 
ccd&iu iRtT oj Muoe. ib*l <hp bono In simc mnunrrvk wrtr nruly caiEre, Ali 
lh# kRRi>i ol ihf bcdiffi wu iVltnnincvI by thkl nf thr rofhru wbifb tttry ftJUd. 
•nd tlut tlK bcdlei in ictncnJ could not bav? Wen mor? thut Iram lKr<c« fnt 
A Tuif 10 four [r«t in Irnj^Lh. Ttiui ii ihouki von Ch*C the gtwrtiiaiu of dw 
ia Oiia rr^un vvn nunTnotbt And fiigmin. 

"I ba'rr okminal iht potVrY. of which I hftrt vjxtkcn fttwr. wiih aomc atien' 
tloiL II 1j unbaliRl, uid ihr Kluiiif vt:ty iD«iinpilrlr> linie oH vil^ mk ibi^ucU 
H Ji ll cvidfDV fmn ili^i <ttpknurc frotx regulv^i^ ra (hr mHflc^, (Htt it mi 
JMuUcJ h} Ibc hand 4ad nul b^ uiyUuikj^ like; out tiUhc^ Thr roaipoaltkta) ■ben 
(nciuntl ihowi mi-ny nrhiip tloccuir* Sn the diy ifaai rraemtilc finr know, JUid 
tfaii 1 judge to b« p3lvi^riAtd ■hrlli Hie bftaii of thv ocrnipnuiion tppHn ui b* 
tte aUuvial tUy t^tttoA dooft id tbe wktcn of tbc MIuliolp;^!. And caLkd bir Ak 
Frvnch 'lerw kwih,' from iU gn**T '»L Sjunplo nf thli [ottwy, mow or leu 
pvrttct. w* thown cmywbcrt on th* nvcr- Snne of Eht moit perfect hJi/e bfCfi 
iriiat an ullcd Ihf ' ihaU-binks,' bctov ibv mnuth of thr Ohio. Tbc 
■BH pafU thu I bave ifcn. bdn^ Id lafL u cDiiir as whrD finl fnnn«J> *ra> ■ 
^racJ Id mypf—fUiufl. It was a drinJLing jg^ Uk« the 'ifypbui'of the innvfitt^ 
ll w*a<iuK tvoi^ tbr clialk'-Wnk , It trui amovth, HcLUmcmldcdi and ut the coLovr 
of Mcnmoik £fay jtoncwiirt ll b*d bf*n rmindrrl with grrai rarr. and ycu from 
ftli^t ladraUOOBi on tbc nirficv, it wu fnanilni lliat it bu) bfni m «rou|!bl 
io the paltnol Ihc band. The model of the form waaa kinptc and obvioLiiont — 
thr hnf llT'gacirrl — and it WAuld unialn about tm quann. Thli tcbcI had bt«n 
tMvd to hold aninnd oil; tnr iI had waked Lhroiigh, and vamltlied the frvlcnul 
jvdace^ li» a«k was that ol ■ vtuan^ knoirn by the cUibUas o( (he b*ir, aftrt 
the Indian fuhlon^ Tl» moulder vii not an uzcuralc copyisi. and bad Icuncd 
ftiJthcT attluftry nor ^naiamy, for, olihough the hnith vii fine, 1h* head vAt 
VOikitruut- TVim vetoiciJ (□ bivr been ui mtention of ^t in the outSct I1 «u 
Ibf horriMr Anrl dlvortrd mnuih nf » <avngF. and in driokiRi; yiiu wttuld It ubUgc^ 
10 plae* your tips in contici n-ith Ifinc ol madam the squaw/' — >7iid'» ffA'dUtffr 

Cgawftrt »7 iU- ?flr Mhllnpfcphy on Indtan aadqidliui «« oQf in^um* ixii> 
pk^ A9, wii*3^i p. IJ9. BOta 1 11^ ai^d p, 1H4. nou ts8. 


I04 Earfy fFatern Traveh (Vol. 17 

way through Ihe raviQes^ my route for some miks wound 
away throu^ a sparse grow-th of oaks, and over a region 
which seemed completely excavated into sink-holes. Same 
of thrse tunnd-shajM^ hollows wen* several hundred feet 
ID diameter, and of frightful depth, though of regular 
outline, as if formed by the whirl of waters subsiding to 
the level of the plain beneath. They were hundreds in 
number, yet each was as uniformly circular as if excavated 
by scienti6€ skill. I have met with none so regular in 
outline, though 1 have seen many in the course of my 

The puissant tittle village of Watcrioo furnished mc 
a very excellent dinner, at a very excellent tavem. The 
town appeared, from a hasty view in passing through its 
strcL'ts, remarkable for nothing so much as for the war- 
like sotihriquet attached to it, if we except a huge windmill, 
which, [213] like a living thing, flings abroad its gigantic 
arms, and flaunts its ungainly pinions in the midst ihereof. 
The place, moreover, can boast a courthouse, indicative 
of its judicial character as seat of justice for the county 
of Monroe; and, withal, is rather pleasantly located than 
otherftiac, AbouL five miles north of Ihe village is situated 
a large spring, and a settlement called Bellefontaine. This 
spot is celebrated as the scene of some of the bloodiest 
atrocities of the Kickapoo Indians and predatory bands 
of olhLT tribes aime fifty years since. Many of the settlers 
were killed, and others carried into a captivity scarce to 
be preferred," 


*'Wa»t1oa, in Hmnw County, kbout Ihlrty milca northnal of ^*t^«A**, 
««* jiHocporatnl in iZiM. la ifliS Gmrne Fonjuer purLhaacJ the Uiid on *hich 
(b« liUngr arm i^tBrvlv inrl in ihp unw ycti tip tnd Daniel P. Coak (UiPr * mem- 
ber ol Congn4> Iflid o)ii ud ujuhI the (own. In 1S95 the oouqet ant wu 
chang^ Eixjm Hairitonrillr Lu Waicrlcw^ Abuul lAjo, Joba Cokiaaa rented 
&lKrgf wSnd'iniJ]. Lalrrr frhtfig^ la ad it'intll (iHjT). 

BelleEonlaine is th« cume applied b;r ib« tu\y Fnti<h u> ■ lugit (pring « mik 


Fiagg'i Far H^est 


Ad evening ride of a dozen miles, interesting for nothing 
but a drmching shower, iijccwded by u glare of scorch- 
ing suD^ine, which, for a time, threatened perfect fusion 
to the tra\-eller, or, more properly, an unconditional reso- 
lution into duidity; such an evening ride, under cirtrum- 
stancr^ aforesaid, brought me at sunset to the town of 
Columbia, a pUce, as its name denotest redolent of patri- 
otisuL^' ''Hail Columbia!^' was the exhUarated expres- 
sion of my feelings, if not of my lips, a?i I strode acmss the 
thresliold of a log^cabin, the appertenance of a certain 
worthy man with one leg and the moiety of another, who 
united in his calling the professions of cobbler and pub- 
lican, as intimated by the ?^gn-board over his doar. Hail 
Coltmiibiaf .Ml that it \& possible to a^xird touching this 
patriotic village seems to be that it adds one more to the 
Eivc hundred previous villages of the selfsame appellation 
scattered over the land, whose chief [214] conseijuencr, 
like that of a Spanish grandee, is concentrated and con- 
sists in a title. Every count}' of almost every state of the 
Union, it is verily believed, can boast a Columbia* Indeed, 
the nctme of the Genoese seems in a fair way of being 
honoured as much as is that of Georpre Washington; a 
distinction we are sure to find bestowed upon every bul 
let-patedt tow-haired little rascal, who. knowing not who 
h» father was^ can claim no patronymic Irss general^ 
having been smuggled into the world nobody can tell 
when or how: George Washington, ^'Falher of hia umniryC' 


tvulh cJ rtw prociil lilc of Wilerbu. !e 17^ Cipuln fame* Moore, who bad 
MTwd undrr GMTgr R»|fartCUrt. tciTflrd il (tilt ipHnit «rul In artnr^lani^ (»ilh 
ordn* from Uw ViFi^niA ffuvemmenl buill a blodilu>uBe foft *> a ^nxpicctkin ^Kiirul 
Uk tndiau. Owing lo hii laU mul Kood judfiTWat, ajnicatilo nlatioiu with lb* 
Indlaf^ am malfinilTMl uqUI fj^H. vhtn iKrinui Ifoubtc rvallr began. DudtiK 
Ibc PBU decade 1I1C iBrliaoa killed several vhiE#« — Ef^. 

*• CoLumbia, fd^bl mltei north oE Wale!Hr>Or ajul Afteen mlln DiUh iif SL Loult. 
fVtt* laid out b i8j« on land bcbnipac li> Louii NoUa.^ ^t. 



Eariy Wtstem Trmxb 

tVoL >7 

indeed, if the perpetration of a very poor pun od a venerated 
name may \x pardon<d. 

Tht earliest peep of dawn lighted me into the saddle; 
for, with ihe unhappy Clarence, feeiingty could 1 ejaculate, 

la sober iadncss, sleep, gentle sleep, had visited not my 
eyei, nor slumber mine eyelids; though, with the faith of 
a saint and the pcrsevciftnce of a martyr, I had alternated 
from bed to board and from hoard to bed And through*- 
out that livelong nlfi^htT be it recorded, even until the morn- 
ing dawned, did a ooncert of whippoonvills and catydtds 
keep up their infernal oratorio, scemin^y for no other 
reason than for my own especial torment; until, sinner 
as 1 am, I could not but believe myself assoilzed of half 
the peccadilloes of a foregone life. Happy enough to 
fed myself once more in the saddle, the morning breeze, 
as I cantered through the forest, fanned [215] freshly a 
brow fevered by sleeplessness and vexation- The early 
beams of the day-god were Singing themselves in length- 
cned masses far athwart the plains at my feet as I stood 
upon the blufT&, Descending, I was once more upon the 
AuEAiCAN BoTTOU.*" This name, as already stated, 
was a distinction appropriated to that celebrated tract 
so long since as when it constituted the extreme limit in 
tWs direction of the Northwestern Territory- Extending 
northwardly from the embouchure of the Kaskaskia to 
the confluence of the great rivers, a distance of about one 
hundred miles, and embracing three hundra) thousand 
acres of land, of fertility unrivalled^ it presents, perhaps, 
second only to the Delta of Egypt, the most remarkable 
tract of country known. Its breadth varies from three 
miles to scvtrn. Upon one side it is bounded by a heavy 

Ogdcn'K ItSitri Jrtfm ikt Wist, 

** WItb nfcivnca to the Ameik^n Boeiaid* 
Id Aur volvEOc ill. p. ts, note 4S-— Ed^ 


Fhgg's Far West 


strip of forest a mile or two deep, skining ihe Missisisippi; 
and upon the other b>' an extended range of bluBs, n<m* 
rising from the plain in a mura] escarpment of ao'Cral 
hiuklred feet, as at the village of Prairie <lu Rtxher, and 
again, as opposite St. Louis. Fuelling gracefully away into 
rounded sand hcsps, sunnounted by Indian graves. At 
the ba^ of the tatter are cxhauatless beds of bituminous 
coal, lying bclwcm paialld struta of limestone.** The 
area between the timber-belt and the bluffs is comprised 
in one extended meadow, heaving in alternate waves like 
the ocean after a storm, and intenqxrrscd with island- 
groves, sloughs, bayous, lagoons, and shallow lakes. These 
ejcpaneions of water are numerous, and owe their origin 
[316] to that geological feature invariable to the Western 
rivers — the superior elevation of the immediate tmnk 
of the stream to that of the interior plain. The subsidence 
of the spring'tloods is thus precluded; and, as the season 
advances, some of the ponds, which arc more shallow, 
become entirely dry by evaporation, wh3e others, converted 
into marshes, stagnate, and exhale fmUaHo exceedingly 
deleterious to health. The poisonous night dews caused 
by these marshes, and the miasm of their decomposing 
and putrefying vegetation, occasion, with the sultrine.*ts 
of the climate, bilious intermittents, and the farfamedt 
far-dreaded '^jever and fffw." not unfrcquently terminat- 
ing in consumption. This circumstance, indeed, presents 
the grand obstacle to the settlement of the American 
Bottom- It is one, however, not impracticable to obviate 
at slight expense, by the construction of sluices and canals 
communicating with the rivers, and by the clearing up 
and cultivation of the soil. The salubrious influence of 
the latter expedient upon the climate has, indeed, been 
satisfactorily tested during the ten or twelve years past; 

"See our PDliunc rrvi. p, 7^1. noi* tfij.^ Ed. 



Eariy Wtstem Travels 


and this celebrated alluvion now bids fair, in time, to 
become the garden of North America. A few of ibi lakes 
are beautiful watcr-sheiets, with pebbly nhoras and spar- 
kling waves, aboundinj; with 6&h. Among these ts one 
appropriately named "Clear Lake," or the Grand Marais^ 
as the Frrnch call it, which may t>e seen from St, Louis 
of a brif^ht morning, when the sunbeams are playing upon 
its surface, or at night when the moon is at her full. The 
[jijj earliest settlements of the Western VaUey were 
planted uptin (he American Bottom, and the French 
villagers have continued to live on in health among the 
sioughs and marshes, where Americans would most assur- 
edly have perished. Geologically analyzed, the soil con- 
sists of a silicious or argiilaccous loam, as sand or clay 
forms the predominating constituent. Its fertility seems 
exhaustless, having continued to produce com at an aver- 
age of seventy-five hu^eb to the acre for more than 
a hundred years in succession, in the neighbourhood of 
the old French villages, and without deterioration. Maize 
seems the appropiiate production for the soil; all of the 
smaller grains, on accounl of the rank luiniriance of their 
growth, being liable to blest before the harvesting. 
Cohokia, lU. 


"CruDMcy, Sir TnTvlt^r. It ntrrfli mc hrv ytyt> ran nrry beiwnn one pair 
of flhi^iilden ihfl vcfght of yftat bMvy wiidom. AlAf^k. nowl irould you but db' 
coufie Hie itt ihc ■ft>niler» you mw tjroal the uiLipadetl " 

'* Pf«fr% IpuwrnuF 'ds tcu good far thy ks3'« un to liRrn ta Th« world 
ih&ll get i1, ovtanUed ia 4 cieat soot-" — T'^^MiJ^ omd S'mfiUlom- 

A »uDd which nuLca ua liagcr — yd — fartwetll " 

O? the alluvial character of the celebrated American 
Bottom there can exist no doubt. Logs, shells, fragments 


FA^'j Far H^est 


of coal, and pebbles, which have been subjected lo the 
abrssion of moving water, are found at a depth of thirty 
feet from the surface; and the soil throughout seems of 
unvaiying fecundity. Whether this alluvial deposition 
is to be considered the tmuIi of annual fl^mds of the river 
for ages, or whether the entire bottom once formed the bed 
of a vast lake, in which the waters of the Mississippi and 
Missouri mingled on their passage to the Gulf, is a ques- 
tion of some considerable interest. The latter seems the 
more plausible theory. Indeed , the ancient existence 
of an immcnsL" lake, where now lies the American Bottom^ 
upon the cast sidr of the Mississippi, and the Mantelle 
Prairie upon the w^t side, extending seventy [319] miles 
northwardly from the mouth of the Missouri where the 
Bottom ends, appears geologically demonstrable. The 
southern limit of this vast body of water seems to have 
been al that remarkable cliff, rising from the bed cf the 
Mississippi about twenty miles below the outlet of the 
Kaskaskia, and known as the '* Grand Tower/' There 
is every bdication from the lom and shattered aspect 
of the cliffs upon either side* and the accumulation of debris, 
that a grand parapet of limestone at this point once pre- 
sented a barrier lo the heaped-up waters, and formed 
a cataract scarcely less formidable than that of Niagara- 
The elevation of the river by this obstacle is estimated 
at one hundred and thirty feet above the present ordinary 
water-mark. For more than an hundred miles brforc 
reaching this point, the Mis^ssippi now rolls through 
& broad, deep valley, bounded by an escarpment of cliffs 
upon either side; and, wherever these present a bold fa^dc 
to the stream, they are grooved, as at the comkf -rocks, by 
a series of parallel lines, distinctly traced and strikingly 
unifom:. As the river descends, these walcrgroovcs gradu* 
ally rise along the heights, until, at the Grand Tower, 


Early Wt^tcm Travch 


they attain an altitude of more than an hundred feet; 
below this point the phenomenon is not observed.'^ This 
circumstance, and the disruption of the cUfis at the same 
elevation, clearly indicate the fonner surface of the lake. 
Organic remains, petrifactions of madnjporcs, corallines, 
concholitrs, and other fossil tcstacca, arc found imbedded 
in a stratum [330] nearly at the base. Similar phenomena 
of the water-lines exist upon the cliffs of the Ohio, and a 
barrier is thought once to have obstructed the stream at 
a point called thr Namnvi'^ sixly miles below Louisville, 
with ihe same result as upon the Mississippi. The eastern 
boundary of the expansion of the latter stream must have 
been the chain of bluFs now confining the Amencan 
Bottom in that direction, and considered a spur of ihe 
Ozark Mountains. This extends northeasterly to the 
''confluence;" thence, bending away to Ihe northwest, it 
reaches the Illinois, and forms ifae eastern bank of that river. 
Upon the western side, the hills along the Missouri are suffi- 
ciently Gle\*atcd to present a barrier to the lake until they 
reach the confluence of the rivers. At this point spreads 
out the Mamelle Prairie, slaty or seventy miles in length, 

^ The p«JM^ nb)<4Aed rtlftllve tA the C<tfJtffkMJ rraiu/armcf^fij vtticb 
luTf thkra pluv in thr UJBUMip[H VHllry, I'a eitraclfd from " SchoulrraJl's 
Tr^w^li in iU nentrftt ^rlicfnt^" tnrt will br Emind abiuwiantly ta tiDTrabArale rajr 
cfvn oburTAciona upon Ihr suljjrct, 

" It iDcnu pk^nilcit. fmm Viuiaoi appc«rftn(«k Uuil the cciuDlrr w« have under 
conddmttfin hdJt tv^n cubj«ctHl lo The tnfluencp nf wiier ti m <f>m[ii.ntivfly 
rcceol pcnod; and \X is cvidtM Ibal tl5 peculiar itllurijil aspcci it the tliitinci and 
lutun] rtsuhoF tht tioif ■JuJihemudctn wbiib tbtrv watrn wtrc cihauitni. One 
flMking (ncl. «rhidi appeart tr) have cica.pc<j genrrat nb«enrilion, it, Ihit al tome 
KoTPiCT period then hu been an obotnictioa Id the chajnid of the MiMbtippI 
Bl or nev Grvid Tafrcr, prodadng a sUtgruiJon of ibe current hi an e1rvali{>n of 
•bom one huftJred and lUrty fe*l ahow the prevent ordinary wiUer-flnark, "niii 
■ppMK rddeol frajn the general elevation und diretlinn nf (he hJUa, which, fot 
several bundled milcB ibuvr, are aepuated by a valley from Lwcniy (o ineiU/^ATE 
mile* vide, wbfrh onw deeply imbocomi the cunrni ol ihe Miaiiatippi. Wbe^ 
ever these hlU» disclose rocky and predpilou* !roal*> a Kric» of dintinctly -marked 
anlii^uc vralcT'linca an to be vtvcrtcO- TbcM watcf-limi preBcrve a panlld^ 


Plagg't Far Wtst 


and} upon an average, five or six in breadth. West of this 
plain, th€ lake was bounded by the range of bluffs com* 
mcncing with the celebrated *'Mamcllc3/' and stretching 
north until Ihcy strike the river; while the gradual eleva- 
tion of th<r country^ a^mding the Upper Mississippi, 
presented a limit in that din:ciion. 

The event by which this great lake was drained appears 
to have been of a character eithrr convulsive or volcanic, 
or to have been the result of the long-continued abrasion 
of the waters, as at Niagara, The rocks at the Grand 
Tower are limestone of secotKlary formation — the stra- 
tum being several hundred feet in depth, and imbedding 
hornstone and marine petrifactions throughout. They 
[all] c\*erywhere exhibit indications of having once been 
subjected ti) ibe attrition of rushing water, as Ho the clJfTs 
bounding the Northern lakes, which have long been chafed 
by the waves. The evidence of volcanic action, or violent 
subterranean convuhion of some kind, caused by heat, 
seems hardly less evident- The former workings of a 
divulsive power of terriSc energy is betrayed, indeed, all 
over this region. In the immediate vicinity of the Grand 
Tower, which may be considered the scene of its most 
fearful operations, huge masses of shattered rock, dipping 

lim which ii wry rFrnirltnbbr, «nitr iriur wrihoiildfip«lti>Grul, cnnsi&ndy [trr«rnt 
lh«it gnatcti dvprcuion lowuiU the aourcti of the fiv«r- At Gnnrt Tawef thvjr 
antlcTAied •bculonjc himdied bad ihirty r<ct nWvf Ihe ■ximmit Icvd, ct which 
«lrTiil1nn wp obwrve pelrifictions of madrppofp* and vsHiwa othef foHil orupnlc 
nouJiu which belong lo this pcculiM era- Hrw the ftxlu of diTk-*.t>tou»d Uone- 
■Ukoc, y/lmh peniide the cnuntry to «> g"at ■" cjOcdI. pui^t low^rd* coch other 
M \i thr>' hid once uniled; Injl, by sw"* tonvulwin of luturr, or, what ii ililt 
moTfl probuHtej by ihc eoniinurri action of the wactT upon * wcondmry ttxk. Ihe 
Mfidjdippl hM rfltrtH ft pufloge through thia bt^^UT^ and tbua producing Aft 
«hflt«tion oj iht ^£4Anl ir*tcrt (rem the levd prairie l^ndi nlmve/"— 5duwJ- 
crajf* T'a\tit, p, iifl, ?tg.^ FlaoO- 

C<M)tiHfiu hy fid. This hypothrti»- tn the main Jonntilatcd by H. B- School- 
^»*<- " *tlll m it> urnpril fMtu^* a«<ptcd by mifly s^offWit S» .U» KlUft 
R«hk r*f fiflrt^ a^ ;,, y,,AJ^^laf <Nrw Voik, iSaj). •nk'c "Nortli Awehc*;* 


I 12 

Early IVestem Travels 

[Vol 37 

in every direction, are scatiered about; and the whole 
siTBtum for twenty miles around lies completely broken 
up. At the point in the range of bluffs where Uiis oon- 
fu^on is observed to cease, the mural cliff rises abruptly 
to the altitude of several hundred feet, eithibiting along 
the fa^dc of its summit deep water-lines and other evidence 
of having once constituted the boundary of a lake. At 
the base issues a large spring of fresh water, remarkable 
for a regular ebb and How^ like the tides of the ocean, 
once in twenty-four hours.'' At this spot, also^ situated 
ID the southeastern rxtrrmity of St. Clair county, exists 
an old American settlement, commenced a century since, 
and called the '' Blctkiu^ist!^ from the circumstance 
of a 5loccadr fort for defence against the [zsa] Indians." 
By a late fi^lo^cal monnGimnce, we learn that, from 
this remarkable iUe spring until we reach the Grand 
Ton;%'cr, the face of the country has a depressed and sunken 
aspect, as if once the bed of standing water; and was 
evidently overlaid by an immense stratum of calcareous 
rock, A hundred square miles of this massive ledge have, 
by some tremendous convulsion of Nature, been thrown 
up and shattered in fragments. The confused accumu- 

* A uRi^BT spHog it tM 10 i»ue into dtbrii %i tht loot of the difls «n the 
Oliio, io the vicjojly of Bfttlcry Rock, lis stream a copious, lIcaj, And toldr 
«bbing «nd floving r^gularlj nnrc ir sii hoMn- This phrnnmcnnn Ss «iptunM 
on tbcprindpieof tbciyphdia, SiinJlu-9pnngsar(*foanduni>DgtheAlp«^ Flacg, 

" PIaq ii HinvwhAf miitAl[?n ronrrrnin^ Ihp A^e of Eh« bLxk-houBt trtUe- 
mcnt. Prrtiom ic, gB<Xf. the only AnitOf»ft letlJraient i& Si, Cl&ir Counljr wia 
Tuikcy Kill, which al that dale Dtunbcm] twenty souU^ WilUam ScQlt thf tint 
trttW, movni tlilih«T wilh hu fjunily frrvn KentucJiy in i797» ard bec&iti« k per- 
dUiviDt ruideot- About eSi^ Nitbuiiel Hillr Jmliiu Pcrkiatt Reuben SlubblC' 
Held, Junes uuJ Reuben Lively, and Bidutrd Be«rky leitlcd In the uulheuicTn 
lomre of Si. CUir Cjninty, iTii! tor pmfKiifyi ftguntt thfl Jndi*&R built » blodt- 
houM Eiou the pnacnl dty q( HiUatown on Doia Creek (« tributOTf of tbc K*m~ 
khakia). The lotX w>a Imlet febtLodoncd, And ihe bnlleim moved to oihct pikfti 
frf tbc ElAlf. For k dncT^ptkin fA the tori, hv Httiory cj 5i. Clair Cammty. /V/rnoii 
(PUUdclphlA« iSSO. PP' 9ti, a««^KlK 


F/agg'i Far IVeit 


UttoD of debris is now sunken and covered with repeated 
strata of alluvial dqx>site. Evidence of all this is adduced 
from the circumstance that huge blocks of limestone arc 
yet frequently to be encountered in this re^n, some ot 
them protruding twenty or thirty feet above the surface. 
As we approach the Grand Tower — that focus, around 
which the convulsed throes of Nature seem to have con- 
centrated thar tremendous energy — the number and 
the magnitude of these massive blocks constantly increase, 
until, at that point, we behold them piled up in mountain- 
masses as if by (he hand of Omnipotent mighL Upon 
all this vast Valley of the West the terrible impress of 
Almighty power seems planted in characters too deep 
to be swepl <Lway by the eSacing finger of lime. We 
trace them not more palpably in these fearful results of 
the convxilsions of Nature, agonised by the tread of Dcily, 
than in the eternal flow of those gigantic rivers which 
roll their floods over this wreck of elements, or in those 
ocean-plains which, upon either side, in billowy grandeur 
heave away, wave after wave, till lost in the magnificence 
of [223] boundless eitcnt. And is there nothing in those 
vast accumulations of organic fossils — spoils of the sea 
and the land — the collected wealth of the animal, veRe- 
table, and mineral worlds, entombed in Ihc heart of the 
everlasting hills — is there naught in aU this (o arouse 
within the reflecting mind a sentiment of wonder, and 
elicit an acknowledgment to the grandeur of Ddty? 
Whence came these varied productions of the land and 
sea, so incongruous in character and so diverse in origin? 
By what fearful anarchy of elements were they imbedded 
in these massive cJifls? How many ages have rolled 
away since they were entombed m these adamantine sep- 
idchrc3> from which Nature's convulsive throes in later 
times have caused the resurrection? To such inquiries 

114 Earfy iFiittm Travels (Vol a; 

wc receive iw answer. The secrecy of untold cycles veOs 
the reply in mystery. The r^f-rf \s before us^ but the 
cwtS9 rests alone with Omniscience. 

How wonderful are ihe phenomena betrayed in the 
geological structure of our earth! And scarcely less so 
are the ignorance and the indiflerence respecting (hem 
manifested by most of our race- "It is marvellous/' says 
the celebrated Bucktand/^ "that mankind should have 
gnne on for so many centuries in ignorance of the tact, 
which IS now so fully demonstruted, that so small a part 
of the present surface of the earth is derived from the 
remains of animals that constituted the population of 
ancient seas. Many extensive plains and massive moun- 
tains fonn, as it werc^ the great charnel-houses of preced- 
ing generations, in which the petrified exuviae [334] 
of extinct races of aniniab and vegetables are piled into 
stupendous monuments of the operations of life and 
death during almost immeasurable periods of past time.*' 
"At the sight of a spectacle," says Cuvjer," *'30 unpoa- 

'*Wil1uifi Bw:k1>EKl (17I4-1S56). a cliiktinguAh«d Ln|liah gi^clagist, who trM 
u wcU uoon of Cbrbl C^^lcffc. Oiion] (eAjs^p And itun of WHtniifULR Abbcjr 
(ia«S)' contr1bui«il 11UJ17 Tmluiblf papen U> gmlogic^ public«tia(u^ The Koy^l 
Sodet/i CMnhgm ^f Seitnti/ic Paperi atiawa that Gu^^kUnd w«t thv imtbor ol 
aftr-tbrrt memoirs. Mi> mo* impufiani puSlicfltion. Gtoiitgy and %fintrahxy 

■ttcTcpU I0 prove by aid of tcicncc, '*thf Pow&r, WisdorDj ind (tDodneu o( 
God, b4 EEuialfcstcd in the Citfliwa." — Ei>. 

"Gcofgc Leopold Cr^ticn Ftt66ric Dfcgoberti baron dc Curicr {i76q-iSjj), 
a Fnach naturalist, was lounder of the sdcnce of comparator BDBtumy. Hv 
waa cbat«D 13 ont of the original rnpirbm ol the Tnstlluif, orgnniwd io 1795- 
After holding v&rious BdjuinLKrutitv afliccs under Napoleon, he wa« ikppoioted 
(1S14) a coundlor of Atate* which poaiUoa he held under Loliu XVtll, In 1819 
he wu made pmident of ihe commiltee of the interior. And r^hancellor of th« 
Ucivenqty ol Pub- Louit PhiiUpe made him n pe«r of France, Cuvier'a Adca- 
ttSc work falla Into iXita diviaiona — palcrontnlctgy. syateuiiitic soojo^, and com- 
paraiive anaiomyr He wroie errensivety in all (besr fSrldi. and in each RCtuvvKi 
high mogmiioa- CniiBulC ' Sarah Lee, Vmnrt ef Bcrort Citwr (Landoiir i3,VlK 
aod DucroUy dc Blalnvillc. CfK/wr tt <keffrey Siimt Hilain (Paris* i8oo)h — £d^ 

"lagg'j Far Wfsi 

ing, so terrible as that of the wreck of animal life, forming 
almost the entire soil on which we tread, it is difficult 
to restrain the imagination from hazaixlinj^ some conjee- 
tures as to the caust- by which s\ich great effects have been 
produced/' The deeper we descend into the strata of 
the earth} the higher do we ascend into the archaeological 
histoiy of past ages of creation^ Wc find successive stages 
marked by varying fonns of animal and vegetable life, 
and these generally differ more and more widely from 
existing spedes as we go farther downward into the 
receptacle of the wreck of more ancient creations. 

That centuries have elapsed since that war of elements 
by which the great lake of the Mississippi was drained 
of its waters, the aged forests rearing themselves from 
its ancient bed, and the venerable monuments resting 
upon the surface, satisfactorily demonstrEle. Remains, 
also, of a huge animal of j^raminivorous habits, but differ- 
ing from the mastodon, have, within a few years, been 
disinterred from the soil. The theory of the Baron Cuvier, 
that our earth is but the wreck of other worlds, meets 
with ample confirmation in the geolc^cal character of the 
Western Valley. 

As lo agricultural production.^, besides those nf the 
more ordinary species, the soil of the American Bottom, 
in its southern sections, seems eminently [z2$\ adapted 
to the cultivation of cotton, hemp, and tobacco, not to 
mention the castor-bean and the Carolina potato. The 
tobacco-plant, one of the most sensitively delicate mem- 
bers of the vegetable family, has been cultivated with 
cnorc than ordinary success; and a quantity inspected 
at New-Orleans a few years since was pronounced supe- 
rior to any ever offered at thai market. 

As 1 journeyed leisurely onward over this celebrated 
tract, extensive and beautiful farms spread out them- 

J 1 6 Early Weium Travels [\^ol. ); 

selves around me, wavbg m all the gorgeous garniture 
o( eariy autumn. The prairie was carpeted with the 
lujeunant richness of the golden red, and all the gaudy 
varieties of the fuliotfopr- and asUrs, and the cximson- 
died leaves ol the dwarf -sumach; while here and there 
upon the extended plain stood out in loneliness^ like a 
landmark of centuries, one of those mysterious tombs of 
*i dep;irt«I rKCt^ of which I have already said so much. 
Some of them were to be seen rearinj^ up their summits 
from the hearts of extensive m&izefields, crowned with 
an exuberance of vegetation; and upon one of larger 
magnitude stood a while farmhouse, visible in the dis- 
tance for miles down the prairie. The number of these 
ancient mounds upon the American Bottom is estimated 
at three hutidTcd\ far more than are to be found upon any 
other tract of equal extent. 

At the old French village of Prairie du Pcnt,^* situated 
upon a creek of the same namc^ I made the necessary 
tarry for some refreshment, upon which breakfast or 
dinner might have laid nearly equal [326] claim to bestow 
a name. The most striking circumstance which came 
under my observation during my delay at this place wad 
a very novel mode of producing the metamorphosis of 
cream into buller pursued by these villagers; a manoeuvre 
executed by beating the cream with a spoon in a shallow 
basin. This operation I beheld carried on by the dark- 
browed landlord, much to my ignorance and wonder, 
with not an idea of its nature, until the substance pro- 
duced was placed upon the board before me, and called 

*' Pniik <Ju PoDt (Pruric BridKC), locaied upon a cmk of ihc Mme ruune, 
wu » cluisirnFf] ivT i kv IjridEi: which in ntTr tiiuu iTcsBrd ihe mrk ai l\ut 
peint- The leUlfinpnt wp» hnl n>b6t ■tout 1760 by penpip fwm Cahnkriii whA, 
ACCdnliog to trtdiUiD, ftcd thither IriMu tht HooiU; the utc » ten or tweUr tfvi 
tughrt HvLa thai of Cahokia- Thr SulpiiiJtn miuioRanci bad buill * mill ibcre 
in 1754^ Id 1S44 the p!w wu cearl}! dt^troyM by floodi- — ET>- 


Ffagg's Far IVesl 


tidier. Prairie du Foot h one of the dampest, filthiest, 
roost disagreeably ruinous of all the old villages I have 
ever visited. A few' inilcs to the north is situated Cahokia." 
one of the earliest selt]enienl5 in tht state, and the ancient 
residence of the Ccoquics, one of the tribes 0/ the Illini 
Indians. The place is supposed to have been settled 
by Ihc followers of La Salic during his second expedition 
lo the West in 1683, on his return from the mouth of the 
Mlssi^ppi. More than a century and a half has since 
elapsed; and the rivcr» which then washed the fool of 
the village, is now more than a mile distant. This removal 
commenced, wr arc told, shortly after ihe first settlempnt, 
and well exemplifies the arbitrary character of iheWesiem 
waters. Formerly, abo, a considerable creek, which yet 
retains the name of the village, passed through its midst, 
discharging itself into the Mississippi nol far below. 
The outlet is now several miles higher up; and tradition 
attributes the change to the pique of an urilated villager, 
who, out of sheer spite to the old place and its inhabitants, 
t^aj] cut a channel from the creek to the river, and turned 
the waters from their ancient course. 

As French immigration at Cahokia increased, the 
Indian tribe receded, until the last remnant has long since 
disappeared. Yet it is a singular fact in the history of 
this settlement, that, notwithstanding the savages were 
forced lo abandon a spot endeared to them by protracted 
residence and the abundance of game in the neighbour- 
ing prairies and lakes, they have ever regarded (heir 
successors with feelings of unchanging friendliness. How 
different* under the same circumstances, was the fate of 
the settlements of Plymouth and Jamestown; and even 

" Fc« ft ftbon bUUihcd ikrich of CahokU, v* S^ UkhuiK'* TravtJi. ia our 
volume LU. p. 70. Qdie 1^5. FIa^k, in commQEi wiib ibe c«rlkr wriUn. pUni tbc 

1 1 8 Early Western Travc/r (Vol 37 

here, do sooner did the American race appear among 
the French, than hostililie* commenced. 

For many years Cahokiu, like old Kaskaskia, was the 
gathering spot of a nomadic mce of trappers, hunters, 
miners, voyagcurs, engage, cottricrs du bois, and adven- 
turers, ninying on an cxtcnjuvc and valuable (ur-tradc 
with the Indian tribes of the Upper Mississippi. This 
tratSc has long since be^n transferred to St< Louis, and 
the village seems now remarkable for nothing but the 
venerablcne^ of age and dc?cay. All the peculiarities 
of these old setdements, however, arc here to be seen in 
perfection. The broad-roofed, whitewashed, and gal- 
Icricd cottage; the picketed enclosure; the kitchen garden; 
the peculiar coslumes, customs, povtrty, ignorance, and 
Indolence of the race, are here mett precisely as has more 
than once already been described in these volumes. Here, 
loo, is the gray old Catholic church, in which service is 
still regularly [3^8] performed by the officiating priest. 
Connected with it is now a nunnery and a seminary of 
education for young ladies. The villagers still retain 
their ancient activity of heel and supplcncw of elbow; and 
not a week is suffea-d to pass without a merry-making 
and a dance. The old "common field" is still under cul- 
tivation; and, uncurtailcd of its fair proportions, stretches 
away up the bottom to the village opposite St. Louis. 
This valuable tract, held in common by the villagers of 
Cohokia and Pmirii^ du Pont, has been confirmed to 
Ihcm by act of Congress; and, so long since as fifty years, 
tour hundred acres adjoining the former village were, by 
special act, granted to each family." The number of 

^* By %ct of CoTVgTMA feppr9v*(] March i, 1^91, "a uacE of Und jncludiog tba 
v|lljiA« of Cohod (Cabi^klkl, and Pnlrf^ du Ponl, *nd bcrrloforc ujfd by cIm 
lohnfalunli 4>f the uU vtUcigt ai a. txzntaioTi." wu. " iippnvptliil«] Xo Ott me of 
ibm iohftbitjmu . , ^ tc^ b« uxd by lh«m m a commio, umiJ oUwrvlie dbpo*ed 
of by Uwr" B^ Uic umc kkt, fuur hundrcil tua were unlertd l> be Uiil oulp 

families is now, as has been the case this century past, 
about fifty, neither diminishing nor increasing. Vciy 
few of the inhabitants are of American origin, and thc^e 
are liable to annual attacks of tcvQt, owing to the damp 
site of the place and the noxious eSIuvia of the numerous 
marshes in the vicinity. Upon the French villagers these 
causes of disease exert no effect, favourable or unfavourable. 
A few acres of com; a log cabin; a few swarthy responsi- 
bilities, and a few cattle; a cracked fiddle, and a few cart- 
loads ol prairie-grass-hay in autumn, seems the very 
ulltmalum of his heart to covet or his industry to obtain. 

The road from Cafaokia to the city, inasmuch as it is 
not often conscious of a more dignified equipage than the 
rude markel'Carl of the French viUager> is of no wonder- 
ful celebrity for breadth, or unifomiity of tiack, or excel- 
lence of structure. It extends [329] along the bank of 
the Mississippi, and is shaded on either side by the strip 
of forest which skirts the margin. After a tarry of several 
hour^ at Cahokia^ and an excursion among the rnounds 
of the neighbouring prairie, near sunset I found myself 
approaching "Dlinois-town/' opposite St. Louis,*' It 
was the calm, soft evening hour; and, as I now advanced 
briskly over the prairie^ the cool breezr was whispering 
among the perfumed grass-tops, and ''nightie silvery 

ftiHl **^nn bo cub of t^ioic penoiii who in tbEjcar one thoaHnd ic*ca bundled 
*rnl ftghty-thiw mn hrada o( tftmiliri ai Vinrpnnta. ni In ih^ lUJrofft country. 
t>R tbe Ktiuioaippi, snd vhc, tinn tbit (iin«, ban movwl from ooe oi the uid 
|iW« to Ibe othet,"^ E©. 

'* In 1615 Eticnat Pia^aeau (oMv »p«Med PenaDBeau) Uid out * tofvn oa Ifae 
pirvnt stc of E»il Si- l^iuis. nnd named it Jacksonville. Hl< effort* proviBB 
uniuc<nstiil. h# 9:»Ld rhp Und \o MrVLnighT Jind BTuiy» who in Miy, i^iH, pUtffd 
the site and nuncd il Iliif»iElowD, During tbe fuccrvdicg >ulum.a, the dliufi* 
of CabokiA appoinlol Bvc a.Kcnl» ta litv vuX n Ujvq vie od ihe CiholiLa commons. 
JlUrbi^i Cf(y (Hill came inlo piitlencp, and Ihf flclian of ibp dliErru wju l^alired 
by Coagnaa (May i, iS»of, nUnoittown. Illinois C\ty, and oih«r BrTk«n viUigT^ 
vtrc lalcr amicd Ld fonn Caat St- Loulti vhlcb w«* Imorporatcd ia ih<n aixJ 
chartered !our yan liter — Kr. 

120 Barfy fVaiem TravrU [Vol. a; 

veil" was sl<wly gathmng along ihc rcireating landscape. 
The sun went down like a monarch, robed in puq^te, 
and the fleecy clouds which had formed his throne 
rolled themselves tn rich luxuriance along the horizon^ 
suffused in the beautiful carmine of the heavens. At 
intervals an opening in the forest laid bare the scene of 
splendour as I hastened onward, and then all was dusk 
a^irt. Winding among the group of mounds rqwsing 
in the deepening twilight, and [>enetruting the grove of 
pecans, the moon wa^ just beginning to gild the gliding 
wave at my feet as my horse stood out upon the bank of 
the stream. Clear and distinct beyond, against the crim- 
son back-ground of tlie evening sky, wi^re cut Ihe lowers, 
and cupolas, and lofty roofs of the city; while in front, 
the lengthened line of white warehouses gleamed from 
the shade along the curving shore: and the eye, as it glanced 
up the far- retreating vistas of liic streets, caught a glimpse 
of deeper glories along the narrow zone of horizon beyond. 
The broad sheet which i was now crossing seemed, with 
Ihe oily gliding of its npplcs. completely died in the tender 
roseate of the [330] sunset sky. As the shades of even* 
ing deepened into night, one after another these delicate 
hues faded gently away: and the moonlight streamed in 
fall floods of misty magnificence far over the distant forests; 
the evcning-bells of the city pealed out merrily over the 
waters; the many lights of the steamers cheerfully twinkled 
along the landing; and, as the last faint glimmer of day 
hud gone out, and night had resumed her sable reign. I 
found myself once more amid the **crawd and shock of 
men,^' threading the long, dusty streets of St. Louis. . . , 


Flaggs Far Wftt 


Gentle Readeh, Ihe tale is told — our task is ended — 

** And what is writ, U wrili 
Would ic *ciT wi>nhicrl" 

Our piJgrimiLge is over, (eUowwanderer, Full many a bright 
day hnve we trod togethtr the green prairies, and glidrd 
over the far^winding waters of the fair Valley, Together 
have wc paused and pondered beside the mysterious 
mausoleum of a race departed. We have lingered among 
the time-stained dwellings of an ancient and peculiar 
people, and with kindling interest have dwelt upon the 
early chronicles and the wild legends of the "far off," 
beautiful West. But autumn is upon us — shadowy 
autumrif dark on the mountain-brow. Her purple misti- 
ness is deepening over the distant landscape; and the 
chill rustle of her evening wind, in melancholy whisper- 
ings, wanders among the pennoncd [231] grass-tops. Our 
pilgrimage ceases, yet with no unminglcd emotions do 
I say to thee "^o* voUscumV 

" Val who lM*a inicfd 1H0 Piljcnoi to the iceoe 

Which b hb Uili if In yinii mcmaiici dwdt 
A lAfflifU vlllch oncF nai hli, Lf on ye \wtl\ 
A lingU nCDllntioh, not in vain 
Be wui? his iantJ«J'slJvuii «niJ K&lh>ii-BbcU ; 
Farrvrrti I " 

De Suet's Ixtoss ahd Sketches, 1841-1842 

Rqmnt of c^^;mA] Ed^uIi edition: Fhiluldphia, 1843 







iSlje ftocks Mionntaino. 

P. J. DE SBCET, S. J, 

rvBLiSHlD iT V. nratiiir, 61 n, sboohd staist. 



To those who love then- country, and their fellow men, 
w€ present this Interesting Narrative, wilh the hope, wc 
might say, the certainty, that its perusal will afford them 
some moments of the purest gratification. Wc have scl- 
flom met any thing more entertaining. Its simple, manly 
eloquence enchants the attention. The facts it makes 
known to us of the '*far, far West/' the dispositioft* 
and habits of the Indian Tribes who roam over the 
vast region of the Or^on, their present state and future 
prospects, are such as cannot fail to awaken lively in- 
terest in all who love to look around than beyond the 
narrow horizon of every-day sceEies, and learn what the 
holy servants of God are doing for His sake and in His 
name in distant parts of the world. Wc have conversed 
with the apostolic man from whose pen we receive this 
narrative; and as we listened we felt at once honoured 
and delisted to be so near one who in our days and in 
his own person brings before us that lofty spirit of mis- 
sionary devotedness — those thrilling scenes of Indian 
life and adventure which we so much admire in the pages 
of Charlevoix and Bancroft. 

[vi] Truly our country is full of interest to those who 
watch its progress, and compare it with the past. Who, 
for example, could have 'dreamt that the Iroquois, the 
savage Mohawk, — under which name we best know the 
tribe, and whose startling yell so often made our fore- 
fathers tremble, — would have been chosen to kindle 
the first faint sparks of civilization and Christianity 
among a large portion of the Indian tribes beyond the 


Eariy H^ettem Travels 


Rocky Mouatalns? This is one of the singular (acts 
which these pages present to U£> They abound in others 
QOt less singular and interesting. Msiny of these Indian 
nations actually Uiirst aitcr the waters of life — 3g^ for 
ihe day when the real ** Long Gown*' is lo appear among 
them, and even send messengers thousands of miles lo 
hasten his comings Such longing after Cod's holy truth, 
wJiile it shames our colder piety, should also enflarac 
every heart to pniy fervently that lahorers may be found 
for this vast vineyard — and open every hand to aid 
the holy, self-devoted men, who« leaving home and friends 
and country, have buried theirselves in these wilds with 
their beloved Indians, to live for them and God, One 
of their favourite plans at this moment is to introduce 
among ihcm a taste for agriculture, with the means to 
pursue it» They believe it to be the speediest, perhaps 
the only way by which the Indians may be won from the 
wandering life they now (vii] in general lead and from 
the idle habits it engenders. To aid them in this philan- 
thropic object is our sacred duty as men, as Americans, 
as Christians. It is at least one method of atonement 
for the countless wrongs which these unfortunate races 
have received from the whites. We should be grateful 
to have such an opportunity of doing good: let none suffer 
the occasion to pass unhonoured by some tribute to the 
noble cause — some evidence of their love for God, their 
country and their fellow man. 

The frontispiece is from the pencil of one of the In- 
dian Missionaries. 

It blends the ^M of the artist with the fancy of the 
poet, and will hardly be understood without a word of 
explanation. In the foreground we see several of the 
gigantic trees of the Oregon forests, fallen and crossing 
each other. On these repose two wolves, a squirrel and 

i84i-ifi4j] De Smcfs Letters anJ Sirtc^s 


se^'eral serpents. Above, two Indian chiefs, sumamcd 
in baptism after the grrat Apci&lles of the Gentiles, Peter 
and Paul^ are supporting a large basket of heattss — an 
offering to heaven from the grateful wildeme&L On 
the right are the emblems of Indian life and warfare: the 
bow and arrowy hattle-axe and shield. Below and above 
these are seen some of the most remarkable animals of 
the country — the bear, the [viii] wild horse, the badger, 
the graceful antelope, intermingled with the plover, the 
pigeon, the wood-cock, the bittern, and other birds of 
the region. On the left are the peaceful symbols of 
Christianity — the Bible and the Cross, the chalice and 
altar lights— the anchor, symbol of faith and hope — 
the trumpet, to proclaim the word of God and bid the 
desert bless His holy name. Here too we behold several 
of the noble animals of the territory — the buffalo, the 
deei and elk, the mountain sheep and different birds. 
In the distance are seen on the right, Indian mounds, 
and a water-spout rising from the river Platte, and on 
Ihe left, the Rocky Mountains surmounted by the Cross, 
Festoons, composed of the various flowers the Fathers 
have met on their way over mountains and prairies and 
through lonely vallies, complete the picture — the whole 
supported at the extremilies by different birds of the 
country, and in the centre by the American eagle, — 
fit emblem, we may say, of their own dauntless faith, 
as well as of the heroic spirit of the nation within whose 
borders they have their principal station, and from 
whose genuine piety they have received the most consoling 
assurances of final success, viz: the Flat Head Indians 
and the Pends-d'oreilles, who are styled, evtn by their 
foes, the "nation of chiefs." 

[iz] Once more we earnestly commend the noble cause 
of these devoted Missionaries to the charity of every 


132 E^fy Western Travels [Vol 17 

sinca% ChristiaiL The short time allowed to prepare 
the worit for the press must be our apology for several 
impeifecdons or emns which may meet the eye of the 


Dies Tcnitr dies tua 
In qua reflorcDt omnia, 
Ltttemur et no« in vUm, 
Tua icducti dez-Ura. 

The days of ^ring are drawing near 
When aH thy flowers will re-appear, 
Aod we redeemed by thy right hand, 
Shall walk in gladness thro' the land. 


St Louis University* Feb. 4i i^t~ 
TO THE REV. t. h B. 
Rev. and Dear Sir: 

I pRESxnfE jou Are aware, that in the beginning of last 
Spring, I was sent by the Right Rev. Bishop of St, Louisi,' 
and my Pronndal, on an exploring expedition to the 
Rocky Mountains, in order to ascertain the dispositions of 
the Indians, and the pTO^)ect5 of success we might have 
if we were to establish a mission among them. It is truly 
gratifying to me to have so favorable a report to make. — 
My occupations do not allow mc to enter into ail the de- 
tails; I shall therefore be satisfied at present with giving 
you a brief sketch of my journey and its result. 

I started from Westport on the ^otfa of April, in company 
with the Annual Expedition of the American Fur Company, 
which for this year hod appointed (he rendezvous on 
Green River, a tributary of the Rio Colorado of the West.' 

■ ruhfr d« Smn iru tat on lU mlBdoa ui the FlMhml IndUw br >c«epb 
RoMli- For u jwtowtt of ibt UXtf, t* FUg^i F«r W*tt, la our volomt nrl, 
P' 144, poit US' — Ed- 

*Tn lA^ir Pierre CSauie^ii. Jr.. of the Am^c«ii Fat Compan<r. ulsbliahAd 
% gCDCfil a^Dcjr ID tlw Imlotn cppcvitr RantJpb BtufTL aboul \\int miln brio* 
tfv pn^nt Bip of KAnau dty. Hii bulVlingi tuvinj bnn dnvofed hf ft flo«4 
10 i3>^ be cTH ted othvtt oa lughct CTDbtu), in the pmrni Gvlnoll ftJdIlfan, 
Ptti Ok fool %}i WtJnut ttrrti. Tbr p1«r w«« rallnJ Cbutilcau'* Wanbouac* 
ftBd ■orm hecuv ft ti^^lv ihipping pntnl Inr th^ Iniliui trwlr lo iKji John 
ldfC«T boilt ft tFuUng 1ii>UH at the cmvcg c4 the rovb from CboutaAB'B Wk«^ 
boiuc Aod litdcpcorkacc^ T«o re*fi Utcf be (JUtiAt * to«n *i Cbii polni vtd 
■ttfoed it Wotpon. Wrttiwt fim luml rhmitevci't WftrrboaH u ■ l«adiag 
pUfe, but biff haiix ft iriuxf r>n ibt bifcb rxky baak ol the rntr, k( ibe prrt«tnit 
fool of Gr^^ Avcuuc. Walavtt, Maiii. and Del* wire stnrti- Demur oi ■tipedor 
AitunJ idvieek^rt. tiilt Uim plioe uan betuat tlbt prtndp«l IflxUn^ ind 
ia J 838 « mnpAnj purchAatil Lhc nEt, plitted a town, ksd aaoicd it Kjaaa» City, 
Wmpon thus brtunr the lUJlint point fur ibe catSTuis lo the Wncm couairy. 


EMrfy WfUem Traveh 

[Voi. *7 

Captain Dripps, who commatidct] the caravan, Ireated mc 
OD all occasions with the most polite attentioQ.' On the 
6tb day of our joumcy 1 wa^ seized with the fever and 
ague* and have been subject to it for nearly five month5> 
Nothing particularly worth noticing, occurred during the 
journey, except, when we halted in the village of the 
Shcyeimea.* 1 was introduced to the Chiefs as a minister 
of the Great [14] Spirit: they showed mc great deference, 
and J was invited to a feast. I had to pas3 at first 
through all the ceremonies of the calumet; the great chief 
approached me to shake hands, and gave me a heartfelt 
** How do you do" — "Blackgown," said he. "my heart 
was filled with joy when I learned who you were. My 
lodge never received a visitor for whom I fed a greater 
esteem. As aoon as I was apprised of your coming, I ordered 
my great kettle to br filled, and in your honor, I com- 
manded that my three fattest dogs should be served up/' 

on foot unyiog ihcir wnrc& in ]HK:ka. LAter, pack ho»rs wm Autntiiulod, acd 
by jHjd vmitciEiH ftrtt uvH nlmij^l cxttuMvcIf- Owing li> llic il&n|^T-t fr^jin luALile 
Tnilijini. tKp imlro i{i>ir>fl !■> SuntA Pi* ar iminM iti tlu Rock^ Muunljtint fjinnfd 
ihflDsclvn lAto nnriRA fr>r mutual pTOt^^ctiorir vith ui or^aruHd ■ystcm af 
liurilk hd^ v*iU]>«^ Sec CiT^iw'i Commeta at Ihr Frawit^, in our vutume xin, 
pp. igA'30t. for i (iF^r^ptlr^ti cJ thfw cAr»ytJi». — EO- 

' ftmlm* DripH wu biiiD in WfStmorrUrid CuuQlir, Penosylvanifi (i^Sg). 
v(nt ve)l» iiiid ntih eight other Si. Louit mm iormni th? MiHoiin Fur I'ompany 
itZto)' lie w&i Utcr a member of ihc independent ftrm of FanlcnelLt And Dripa^ 
When Ihe American Fur Cum^u^ bcgiui Ltuir westward cxpan&iuiL. Dripi rnieicd 
inlQ their employ, tuiving rFurge aTicr i8jti nf itnnu-tl npedjlionft Xn the moimlaina- 
lo 1841, iht companj having cncounttird aifunR cpp^inaiiifln, the fcdctal Roicm- 
nuQi wiu prtvailrd upon lu revivp the ofTioi- uf IndJan aipnt. Drlpi arrvMl four 
yuLtt «A iLgcnl In the ^ioux of itip upper Misioiiri, with An mnuAliaJaiy of f 1500. 
In (hia capadtir, Dripa rendered valuable scmec lo the eompany. Upon UiB 
expiration of hi» i^rri nf office, be irsenTcrYd ihccompBny'B cmployinpnt. In whfrti 
he continued until Kit detith m KAruas City, Miiaoun (1^60), He tnartied a 
ivuniiin of t3kc Ota Indian oAtion. Tticir dauK^iLcf, Mrk William Mulkcy of 
Kaniuw T-iiyt haa in hv puncasiun ni4itjr of tier fiUber'fe valuable paprrA. Sec 
H- M C'hiltendifn, 4ni*n^pn Fi^r-Tntdr *ij tht For mtst (New Yark. iqos)- — Ed» 

■ t^nra tkflchnf tbe Cheyphnp, w« Bradburyl Ttfvtmls^ in our vnlume v, pr 1^, 
note as.— Ed. 

1841-1^43] Df Smet'j Lftteri and Sketches 


The bravest warriors of ihc nation partook of ihc repast, 
and I availed myself of the opportunity to explain Co 
them the most important tenets of Christianity. I told 
them the objeet of my visit, and enquired whether ihcy 
would not be satisfied to have s\fo Black-gowns among 
them, who woiild teach them to love and serve the Great 
Spirit, as he wished. "Oh yes/' they eaprrly answered, 
"we will gladly provide for every thing that they stand 
ID need of; ihcy will not die of hunger amongst us." 
I have no doubt but a zealous missionary would do a 
great deal of good among them. They arc about two 
thousand in number. Their language, it is said, is very 
difficult. On the ^olh of June we arrived at the rendez- 
vous.* An escort of warriors had been provided for me 
by the Flat-heads. Our meeting was that of children who 
come to meet their parent^ and in the eETuaion of their 
heart, they bestowed upon me the fondest names with 
a amplidty truly patriarchal. They told me of all the 
interesting particulars of Ihcir nation, and of the wonder- 
ful preservation of sixty of their men, in a battle against 
two hundred Black-feet, which lasted five whole days, 
and in which they killed fifty of their enemies, without 
losing a single man of Iheir number *'The Great Spirit 
watched over them; ** they said, " he knew thai we were 
to guide you to [15] our camp, and he wanted to clear the 
road of all the obstacles that you might have found on 
your way- We trust we will not be annoyed any more by 
the Black-feet; they went off weeping like women/'' We 
thanked heaven for the signal preservation, and implored 

* Tb^ mufciYovs In 1840 w" hrid in ihe uppci valley gl Gtnn River, nt»j 
Pen VQniiP'llle. In v«tfrn Wyoming. Nur the htvlvAun ot ifiE Miawurit 
C^iumbiiL «Jid Colonuto nvcai, thin plwx vu ft tiaiutjiI doJ Mvll-kaovra cttHliaf 
IKBoi. For a ikKiii^liun wf Grpen RivDr, >rt Wycili'* Oftgon. in oui votumc jsii, 
p. (io^ ftr\r 38; Irw (Kp tT^ndpftfo"* at rKitpUcp in 1K34, we Townsend't ffarta^int. 
In Ibe Mme volujuci p^ 19S1 luttc 40. - Ed- 


Eariy Wtstrm Travtk 


its issislaoce for the new and perilous journey we were 
on ihe point of undertuking. The Indians of different 
nations and the trappers, had assembled at the rendezvous 
in great numbers^ for the sake of the ti^e. On 5und»y, 
the fifth of July, I had the consolation of celebrating 
Ihe holy sacrifice of Mass jw6 dio. The altar was placed 
on an elevation, and surrounded with boughs and gar- 
lands of flowei^; I addressed the congregation in French 
and in English, and spoke also by an interpreter to the 
Flat-head and Snake Indians. It was a spectacle tnily 
moving for the heart of a Missionary, to behold an 
assembly composed of so many different nations, who 
aU assisted at our holy mysteries with great satisfaction. 
— The Canadians sung hymns in French and Latin, 
and the Indians in their native tongut*. It was truly 
a Catholic worship. . - . This place has been called 
sbce that time, by the French Canadians, te prtxirie 
dc la Messt. 

About thirty of the principal chiefs of the Snake In- 
dians invited me to a council.' I explained to them 
the christian doctrine in a compendious manner — they 
were all very attentive — they then deliberated among 
themselves for about half an hour, and one of the 
chiefs, addressing me in the name of the others, said: 
**Black-gown, the words of thy mouth have found their 
way to our hearts; ihcy never will be forgotten. Our 
country is open for thee; come to teach us what we have 
to do, to please the Great Spirit, and we will do accord- 
ing to thy words." I advised them to select among them- 
selves a wise and prudent man, who, every morning and 
evening, should assemble them to offer [16] to Almighty 
God their prayers and supplications; that there the good 

■Foasiketchof ilieSuk« l&diuu, am Bndburf** TV««<«b, in our*o1um« *r, 
p, )tT> note iij.— Rd. 

iS4i-i84») Df Smet'i LfUers and Sketchrs 


chiefs should have an opportunity of exhorting Iheir 
wajrior^ to behave as they ought. The meeting was 
held the very same evening, and the great chief promul- 
gated a law, that for the futurct the one who would be 
guilty of theft, ur of any other disonjerly act, should receive 
a public castigatJon. On Monday, 6th, we proceeded on 
our jounnry.* A dozen Canadians wished to accompany 
me, to have an opportunity, as they said, to practise 
theET rcUgion. E^ht days afterwards we arrived safely 
in the camp of the Flat-heads, and PcHKlcias, or Pends 

Immediately thr whole village was in commotioQ ; 
men, women and children, all came to meet me, and 
diAke hands, and I was conducted in triumph to the 
lodge of the gttal chief Tjolizhitzay, (the Big face.) He 
has the appearance of an old patriarch. Surrounded 
by the principal chiefs of the two tribes, and the most 
renowned warriors, he thus addressed me: ^'This day 

' In Ifar Vtyo^ «kx J/MMf^ft k^kfuuj. Dc SniM h^v "an tb« 41I1 of 

*PlatlbMd «M ft ivtn ipplled bo nrtoiu ihbc* of ladUa* «rbo ipcn luppcaed 
ea fir«x.tkc (be cuMon of Auieoiag tbe lu4cb tvE iScir isfuitt. A divukn of tbe 
ChiKUw was LiwwTi by Ihia niiroe- TTw iribr bcrr nfcrrrd lo beJanjpii iw the 
Saluhui iibKk; ta Fnn^hHr'i Nttrratnrt, it '3ur ToTiLnif vt. p- 34^ W** ^4$. 
Tt^ vfn Dot io Like fciAbtt of SAttcmaiE the bud, aaj tbe QEinia of tbfU* cc^&ocaen 
!■ tldjIMiwii TbE tqcd^L. uibc rUiiciJ by Dc Smd darli akme the U^ aoJ 
Aicr ^Akft% b«T thrii nuTw. wiih iheiT fhirf Antre m <f* BrCmrvif ViUfj. By 
tbe IratT '^ '^5S ^^^ ceded to tbe ^veratDoic ui esf turn tr>ct ol kitd ia thlft 
iq^ii. bcijic nrvtf tm dccTKi in vidLb lod uiodlftg 'nm DD>r the Aorrjr- 
■tcond ptrtlWI ID the British Kne. In N<nmhM, tS^i. the pfv«liSeD( iMued BS 
(vdcf tor Ihar mnoTa] trom BiRcrroM V*Uey to tbc Jocko revmt»c. Anvofft' 
mcot« WOT (tutbo (umpklied br (he silkk i>f t^ncavoA of Augott ^, 1871 > 
AfiH i^OQBldcrtbie dMty Uu^ rrmowd thHti^r, ubd tc^Mtat «IA lh« ?erid 
d'Onillt ftod Kvteau, kledivrl tnbo. MSI ioh^bll the inufiMllaQ See Pdcr 
EtoQux HMriMf 3W^ o! IW Fi^Atad /ndint .Vat>H (H'lerkiL I0oo). 

The Pead iTOnfllp (CaT'dng) [ndi^iu, whnae ruTivr nw «u Kalvpri. 
Ttn ktadred to the Fluhe^d, tr"*"*f * ■imiUf ijjlcct- Tlidf h«brUl Ut nonh- 
*nt of the FUthuil piuya, vpeo the Idabu Uk« uxl iu Dtbvtvj iItd tevtng 
their rwne^^ Ed. 


Ear/y W^eitern Traveli 

(Vol, 37 

KaikolmTXMten (the Great Spirit) has accompliahn! our 
wishes, and our hearts arc swelled with joy. Our de- 
sire to be instructed was so great, that three times had 
wc deputed our people to the Great Black-gown" in St. 
Louis, to obtain a falher. Now, Father. s[)e3k. and 
we will comply with all you will tell us. Show us the 
road wc have to follow, to come to the place where the 
Great Spirit re-sides." Then he resigned his authority 
to me; but I replied that he mistook the object of my 
coming among ihem; that I had no other object in view, 
but their spiritual welfare; that with respect to temporal 
affairs, they should remain as they were, till circum- 
stances should allow them to settle in a permanent 
spot. -^Afterwards wc ddibers^tod on the hours proper for 
their [17] spiritual exercises and instruclions. One of 
the chiefs brought me a bell, with which I might give 
the signal 

The same evening about persons were assem- 
bled before my lodge to recite night prayers in common. 
I told them the result of my conference with the chiefs; 
of the plan of instructions which I intended to pursue; 
and with what disposition they ought to assist at them, 
etc. Night prayers having been said, a solemn canticle 
of praise of their own composition, was sung by these 
children of the mountains, to the Author of their being. 
It would be impossible for me to describe the emotions 
I felt at this moment; I wept for joy, and admired the 
marvellous ways of that kind Providence, who, in his 
inhnite mercy, had deigned to depute me to this poor 
people, to announce to Ihem the glad tidings of salva- 
tion. The next day I assembled the council, and with 
the assistance of an intelligent interpreter, 1 translated 
into their language the Lord's Prayer, the Hail Mary» 

* The Bbbup.— De Smr, 

iUi%S^2] Dc Smefs Letters and Sietchet 


the Apofltkft" Creed, the ten Commandments, and four 
Acts. As I was in the habit of reciting these prayers, 
morning and evenings and before instructions, about 
a fortnight after, I promised a beautiful silver medal 
to Ihe one who would recite them first. One of the chiefs 
rising immediately^ ^'Father/' said he, smiling^ ''that 
medal is mine/' and he recited all the prayers without 
missing a word. I embraced him, praised the eager- 
ne-ss which he had evinced of being instructed, and 
appointed him my Cathecisi. This pood Indian set to 
work with so much zeal and perseverance, that in less 
than a fortnight all knew their prayers. 

Every morning, at the break of day, Ihe old chief is 
the first on horseback, and goes round the camp from 
lodge to lodge. " Now my children," he exclaims, '* il is 
time to rise; let the first thoughts of your hearts be for 
the Great [iS] Spirit; say that you love him, and b^ of 
him to be merciful unto you. Make haste, our Father 
will soon ring the bell, open your ears to listen, and your 
hearts to recdve the words of his mouth.*' Then, if 
he hae perceived any disorderly act on the preceding 
day, or if he has received unfavorable reports from the 
other chiefs, he gives them a fatherly admonition. Who 
would not think^ that this could only be found in a well 
ordered and religious community, and yet it Is among 
Indians in the defiles and vallies of the Rocky Moun- 
tains \ \ \ You have no idea of the eagerness they showed 
to receive religious instruction. I explained the chrlsdan 
doctrine four limes a day, and nevertheless my lodge 
was filled, the whole day, with people eager to hear more. 
At night I related those histories of the Holy Scriptures 
that were best calculated to promote their piety and edi- 
fication, and as 1 happened to observe, that 1 was afraid 
of tiring them, "oh no,'* they replied, ^'if we were not 


Early Western Travels 

[Vol .7 

afraid of tiring you, wc would gladly spend here the 
whole night." 

I conferred the holy sacrament of Baptism on six hun- 
dred of them, and if I thought it prudent to postpone 
the baptism of others till my return, it was not for want 
of desire on their part, but chiefly to impress upon their 
minds a f^reater idea of the holiness of the sacrament, 
and of the dbpositions that arc required to receive 
it wortiiily. Among tbn,se baptised, were the two great 
chiefs of the Flat-heads and of the Ponderas. As I ex- 
cited the catechumens to a heartfelt contrition of their 
sins, the Walking Btar^ chief of the Ponderas, answered: 
"Father, I have been plunged for a number of years 
in profound ignorance of good and evil, and no doubt, 
during that time, I have often greatly displeased the 
(treat Spirit, and therefore I must humbly beseech his 
pardon. But when I afterwards conceived [19] that a 
thing was bad, I banished it from my heart, and I do 
not recollect to have since deliberately oSended the Great 
Spirit." Truly, where such dispositions are found, we 
may well conclude that a rich harvest is to be gathered, 

1 remained two months among these good people, 
and every day they were adding to my consolations, by 
their fervor in prayer, by their assiduity in coming to 
my instructions, and by their docility in putting into 
practice what they had been taught. 

TTie season being far advanced^ and as I had waited 
in ^'ain for a safe opportunity to return to St. Louis, I 
resolved to commit myself entirely to Providence, and on 
the 7th of August,^" I took leave of ray dear Neophytes. 
I appointed one of the chiefs to replace me during my 
absence, who should preside in their evening and mom- 
ing devotions, and on the Sabbath exhort them to virtue, 

" Evidently fl mltprlnl lor sritu of AogutL Comull Ibe luccHding letUr,— ■ Bd. 

iS4(-i^4'] Or Smrfj Letters and Skftches 


baptize the little children^ and those who were danger- 
ously ill. Grief was depicted on the features of all, and 
tears were glistening in every eye. The old chief ad- 
dressed me, saying, "Father^ the Great Spirit accom- 
pany thee in thy long and dangerous voyage; eveiy day, 
morning and e^-emng, we will address to him our hum- 
ble supplicationsi that thou maycst arrive safely among 
thy brethren. And we will continue to do so, iQI thou 
be again among thy children of the mountains. We 
are now like the trees that have been spoiled of their 
verdure by winter's blast. When the snow will have 
disappeaied from these vallics, and the gra^ begins to 
grow, our hearts wiU begin to rejoice; when the plants 
will spring forth our joy will increase; when they blos- 
som, it will still be greater, and then we will set out to 
meet you. Farewell, Father, farewell." 

The Chiefs would not suffer me to depart by myself 
— [20] thirty of the bravest warriors were deputed as a 
safeguard to traverse the country of the Black-feet, who 
are very hostile to the whites, and they were instructed 
to accompany me, as far as need would be of their assist- 
ance. I resolved to take on my return a different route 
from the one I had taken in coming. T was induced 
to do so, in order to visit the Forts of the American Fur 
Company on the Missouri, and on the Yellow Stone, 
to baptize the children. After five or six days travel- 
ling, we fell in with a war party of the Crow Indians^ 
who received us very kindly, and we travelled together 
for two days- Then we directed our course to the Dig 
Horn," the most considerable of the tributary streams 

^^ For akctchc« ^ th< BljKkfcft uid Ibe Crow», soc 6t«dtiur)r'« Trav^^. ia our 
irolumc V. pp. i^% iLOd 3iC. aam 1^0, [tt nspedlvdy. In V^jcj^ aiu: Mq^- 
Id^wf ifffJbmif f, Dt Smei uyi that lhi« cunp of Cran cooiialHl of «m thouttod 

Th« Rig Horn RIttTh bo c«U«d Ftdth tlif Rochy Mouniiin ih^p, risfi in the 

■ 46 

Ecrly Western Travelt 

[Vol. tf 

of the Yellow Stone. There we met another pany 
of the same nation, who were abo amicably disposed 
toward-! us. As there was question about religion, I 
availed myself of the opportunity to express to them 
the main articles of the Christian faith, and as I was 
depicting in lively colors the torments of hell, and had 
told tliimi that thr Great Spirit had kindled this fire of 
his wrath, for tho{;e who did not keep the command- 
ments I had axplained to them, one of the Chiefs uttered 
a horrid shriek. '*If this be the case," said he, **thcn 
I believe there are but Iwu in the whole nation who will 
not go to that place; it is the Beaver and the Mink; they 
arc the only Crows who never stole, who never killed, 
nor committed all the excesses which your law prohibits* 
Perhaps I am deceived, and then we must all go together." 
When I left them on the next day, the Chief put a fine 
bcII on my horse's neck, and invited mc to take a turn 
round the village. Next, he accompanied me for six 

After 9C\'eral days of a painful journey over rocks and 
diSs, wc arrived at last at the fort of the Crow5>*' It 

Wlml River Mngt» ocar the tcntn oJ Wyoming, flo*M north ihfough the Big Bora 
MounUintt inia M^JnLajuu aod tnrnding tnttHrcj lIk tiorthrnfit ichhs lUe Yellow- 
stone mils pntiapnl inbtilary ^oulh *!•% the big Bora Mdunlniiu. the tirum ii 
unully cikUcd Wmd River, The Bffc llcrn Valley, the home of the Crows, wba 
a lich fur-boiEiiis nr^on dnd ffCtiumily 'isli?J by U4[>t>^r5 4/vi trailer}- — Ed. 

"The po5l ^bited by Fatbci de Smel was Fort Van Burcn> located on thn 
SDiitla Iwok. of Ihr VelW«r3iune, w (he mouth uf the RoKbud- ll woa built in 
'^35 ^ ^- J Tullixh Inr the Amerirjin Fur Com[\?iny, and stood unlil 1843. 
when ft wna biirned by inflnictlans from CharLn J. Larpcnteur, vho wX one« 
unlcieJ ihc crntion uf Fcui AlcMiihlei. mi the Quith sidr uf ihc YrUuwitouti 
Iwrntf mtiK higher up De ^mei wn* TnittaVrn when hf siid thai Fnft Van Biirrn 
ir«»the first foil pf the Yellowstone rrrtlfid by thT Amcfirmn Fur Company- Fort 
C4M wa» bulU by A. J. Tulloch In 18.11 at the moulh o( thr Big Horn, but three 
yt*n Ufer wat ahundnntd '{"he fourth and luT fort erected in (hlK region hy 
ihc American Fur Company wm Fort Saipy, on ihr south aide of ihii river, Iwioiy' 
fin mlLn betow Ibr uld lUr ol Port Cub. CoubuU Mhjih Frrdcritk T^ Wiboo, 
"Old Fort I'lerre rmd lie Ncighbon,*' wi«h ^fonal tvXei by Charln E- Dt Lanit 
ia S^vih VaMa H<Sf- CoUt^ {AbeTdcVQ, $. U-i l^OA), 1, pp. 959-3T9< — £i>- 

iS4i'iS4?] /^ Smfi'j L^turs and Stefchrs 


ts the first ihc American Fur Company jK>sscssed id that 
county-. [31] My de^r Flat-heads edified all the Inhab- 
itants by their fervor and their piety. As well in the fort^ 
ad xm the road» we never missed performing in common, 
our evening and momtDg devotions, and singing caolides 
in honor of the Almight>\ Frequenily, during my stay 
with them, they had given me abundant proofs of their 
tniftt in Providence. I cannot forbear mentioning one 
instance that occurred during my travels in this place. 
One day as dinner was preparing and provisions scarce^ 
a countryman of mine, who accompanied me, suggested 
the propriety of keeping something in resene for supper. 
"Be not uneasy/' said the chief, called Ensyta/* '*I nes^er 
missed my supper in my life. I trust in the mercy of the 
Great Spirit, he »-ili provide for all our wants/' Wc 
had just camped at night, when the chief lulled two stags- 
*'Dtd I not tell you right?" he remarked, smilmgjy, to 
my companion. "You sec the Great Spirit docs not only 
provide For our wants of this evening, but he gives u& 
also a supply for to-morrow." 

Now began the most difficult and most perilous part of 
our journey. I had to pa^ through a country supposed 
to be overrun by war parlies, of (lie Btack-feet, AsAine- 
boins, Gros Ventres, Arikaras, and Scioux.'* AU these 

" EfuylAdnsuU), Kimeiima called litUe Chief bduuse of bb suiioan aIw 
fisRifii HM Fenlhct lft«n hl» oftidiil tmWpm, and thriitPnerf Mii-hael lier*ui*i o( 
hi» f&ithfulncD, wu nnc of ihc ntagt influrniiAl of the FUthcatl chiefs, and GftOtrd 
pramiaenilr in Dc Smn'* work among thr Indiam of fals tribe. Id iSjs he hid 
irtutc^ Elu nndeivaiu in GRcn River V&.Uey, in (he hop« of securing nauaJ^Qftry 
•idt wl ihcn met Samuel Parker and Marct^a WhitmaD- S^ Samuel Puker, 
Joitrmot «/ 0n E^fioring Tmr nmoHg tlu Rpcky J^curUains CIchaca, iSj8>t p- 77- 
AMcrding to L- Q. PalLadino, JnjttaK /ind Whtu in ikt !^oHhivtst (Baldmon, 
1B94), Insula KPat dJiappuinioii ooi ta &nd a ''black robe," aad presciVDil hit 
iHbpfor^Ciblhollc misionuiita, Hla ialc^ty» juiigincnl, and bratciy iniuic him 
highly cfiEeerae<l- — F.D, 

^ For ikeidua nf ihr Adkara and Sleut. «« Braxlbury** Traveh. in our 
voltunv T, pp- itj aod 90, ootM jb and 55 respcctivd^r; for the ^HUiibo^i ac« 


Early Western Travels 

[Vol, AT 

nations entertained the most hostile dispositions to- 
wards the FUt heads. I therefore dispensed with iheir 
services any farthtr. I again excited them to continue 
the f^uod work they had begun; U> be steadfast in thetr 
faith; re^ar in thdr devotions; charitable towards one 
another. I embraced tbcm a)] and took my leave. 
Mr. John de Velder,^' a native of Ghent in Belgium, had 
volunteered his sendees to me at the Rendei-vous, In 
consideration of the bad siaie of my health, I deemed 
myself very happy to accept of them; he has never left 
me »nce. He was now to be my only travelling com- 
panicHi< As there is no road, we followed the direction 
of the river; at intervals we were [22] obliged to make 
immense circuits to avoid the steep and craggy hilts that 
deCed our passage. For two hundred miles, we had 
continually death before our eyes« On the second day, 
I discovered before daylight a large smoke at a distance 
of about a quarter of a mile. We hastily saddles! our 
horses and following iqi a ravine we gained a high bluS 
unperceived. At night we did not dare to make fire 
for fear of attracting notice. Again about dinner time, 
we found on the road the carcase of a Buffalo^ killed 
only two hours before; the tongue and the marrow bones 
with some other dainty pieces had been taken away. 
Thus Ihe kind providence of our God took care to 
supply our wants. 

We took a direction contrary to the tracks of the Indians, 
and spent a safe night in the cliffs of the rocks. The 
next day we struck upon a spot where forty lodges had 
been encamped, the fires were yet in full blaze. 

Finally, we crossed the Missouri at the same place 

MLUiiulian'5 TroiftU. ia out volocnr xxii, pi ^70, qdXk 346. for tbe Gro* Vctitru, 

Ke UTidbary'i 't*avrts. in our voJum* v, p in, nale 76, — £». 

" For • moir c™npklc accuooi o* John ck VddeT, sec succwding letter. — Ed. 

84i'iS47| Df Smrf's Letters and Sieiches 


where, only an hour hcfore^ a hundret] lodges of ill- 
minded AssineboiDS had passed, and we arrived safe and 
unmolested at Fort Union, situated a few miles above 
the mouth of the Yellow Stone. In all these Forts great 
harmony and union prevaB; Mr. Ripps, the present 
administratoT of ihem, is a gentleman well worthy of 
his station." Every where 1 was treated by these gentle- 
men with the greatest politeness and kindness, and all my 
wants were liberally supplied. As I was relating the 
particulars of this dangerous trip to an Indian Chief, 
he answered: ''The Great Spirit has his Manitoos; he 
has sent them to take care of your steps and to trouble 
the enemies that would have been a nuisance to you." 
A Christian would have said: Angelis suis mandavit de 
te, ut custodiant tc in omnibus viis tuis," [33] On 23d 
of September we set out (or the village of the Msindams, 
la company with three men of the fort, who bad the 
same destination. \Vc met on the road a party of 19 
AssineboinSj who were returning to Ihcir countiy from 
an unsuccessful expedition afrainfit the Gros Ventres* 
Their looks indicatwl their bod intentions: although we 
were but five in number, we showed a determined coun- 
tenance, and we passed uninolest^. Next day we crossed 
a forest, the winter quarters of the Gros Ventres, and 
Arikaras, in 183s* It was there that those unfortunate 
tribes were nearly erterminatcd by the small pox- We 
saw their bodies wrapped up in Buffalo robes, tied to 
the branches of the largest trees. It was truly a sad 
and mournful spectacle. Two days later wc met the 
miserable survivors of these unhappy tribes. Only ten 

*' For iltc<fh« of Fori Union unci Jarti'* Kipp (nai K^lppiK >« MkELTnllLftn'ft 
TVavdir ia o^ tq]\uxic sdi, pp- 371. 545, oouv 340* 3>q reapcirttvel^r-— En, 
^"'H« h*i gi<r«n his «a^lft ihtrgs of thM, that the/ gu^rd thee in >J1 thf 


Ear/y IV^sum Travtli 

fVoU ^7 

families of the Mandans, once such a powerful nation, 
now remain. They have united with the Gros Vcnlr« 
and Arikaras^ They received me with great demonstra- 
tions of fricnd&htp; 1 spent that night in their camp, and 
the next day crossed the Missouri in their canoe^ made 
of a buffalo skin,^' The next day we came to the 
first villi^e of the Arikaras, and on Che following day to 
their great village, consisting of al)out a hundred earthen 
wigwams-'* This tribe also received me verj' kindly. 
On the 6th oF October we started from the Mandan 
village, for Fort Pierre, on the little Missouri; '* a 
Canadian, whose destination lay in the same direction, 
accompanied us. The Commandant of the Fort had 
recommended to us in a special manner to be on our 
guard against the Jontonnois, the Santecs, Jantous, Anke- 
palines, Ampapas, OgallaHas, and Black-feet Scioux, who 
have often proved very troublesome to white strangers.'* 

*' Fur A (lulch of the Mka^Un IndUiu, kc Bnulbdr/a Trt^vdi, u our volume 
T, p. It4. nitf ^f^\ for &n accrhint of thrrr IniHjil rtuEorru* ht p. iCo, In Ihp asniE 
'rolumc; and lar the loradon lA (heir v]lUa«. «« MojimiUaD's Ttayieii, in dut 
Toluuic laia. ji, iSA. miir 19*. Tlic sinmUfiM scountc oecorred \n iS^j. 

tn refFTrfhre Xa tni^^lo-bi^r* or ahin-hnftts. f^t Ma-TEmJUan'i TratWi, in our 
volume vnijp pr *7q, tiol* J46.— Ed. 

** For IhP nri^nal IrKAiiom^f the Arikm villagFt. flet our vaLuni« Ttoi. pp, 3^5, 
.336, not?* iQi)* ^00. At the dme of the greikt siniill-pox Kourgc (1B37), tbe Anknn 
were cauuDped auT Uic MtncUn vilUec- The latifr tribe ib^ndaaed tbedr viL- 
UgM. and ihr imall rtmnant mo^^ *mbp ihfM mi|*t up th? Misicmri, where ihe^ 
<*t!c(oi Gfiwn or tifc^niy ne* buJu; while iho ArikBr* iix»k pcnKMkm of their 
otrl vIllaffPA. nhcTP De Sinel fouAtl thrm. Y'it their bcaLlua vx our voLunir udll. 
pp. 354. 153 When the mluioury in the succeeding KDieiice speiVj of 
■t&rlJDK from the "Mandan vilUgc," K? mcfuia the lonztcr Maodan yillane. now 
Inh^Ulrd by ihr Arlkafa- Tlif laitei inbc rcnulnc<l tl thb site uutfl Lhdr re- 
mov*l 10 fort Bertboldf Bhoui i«*W.— Kl*. 

** In fefepenfV to Fort PIcttv. k* Midmi11in'« Tfavtls, in fHir volume nil, 
p. J15, note ijy. Far a dcscrtptloD of lh« LltUe Mitsomi River, niorD frequtnll^ 
kaawn &» Teton ur Bad, sec our volume Julii, fi- 04. utile Gi^ — Ed, 

■ Tlie icfercncc is l«i the various diriaions of the Dekcla or Sioan, but the 
eluilflctiion liuruBtlariutory, For inrnt iluBL^ticin. ht J- W. Powell* U. S, 
Bureau <}f tlthiVkLogy IC/^urt, [)tt5-W>» pp. iit'iij; »Ud Muimili»n'» Ttmth, 

i84i-ifE4a) £V Smtts LttUrs anJ Sketcftes 


On the thiitJ day of our journey we fcU in with an 
ambuscade of the Jantonnois ajxl Santecs^ ibcy did not 
do us any harm, but on the contrary [34] treated us very 
kindly, and at our dq>arturc loaded us with provisions. 
The next day wc fell in with several oUier partiu, who 
showed us much kindness. On the ninth day wc were 
on the lands of the Black-fcct Scioux; tbifi countir is 
undulating and intersected with numberless little streams. 
For greater caution we tmvellccl in ravines. Townrds 
dinner tune, a fine landscape, near a delicious spring, 
seemed to invite us to take some repose. We had 
scarcely alighted^ when all on a sudden a tremendous yell 
alanned us, and from the top of the hill under which 
we were, the Black-feet darted upon us like lightning. 
'*Why do you hide yourselves?" asked the Chief, in a 
stem voice. *'Are you afraid of us?" Drtssed in my 
cassock with a crucifix on my breast, — a costume I always 
wear in the Indian country.— it appeared to me that 
I was the subject of his particular enquiry. He asked 
the Canadian what kind of a man I was. The French- 
man said I was a Chief, a Black-gown, the man who 
spoke to the Great Spirit- He assumed immediately a 
milder countenance, ordered his men lo lay down their 
anns, and we performed the ceremonies of shaking hands 
and smoking the calumet of peace. He then invited 
me to accompany them to the village, situated only at 
a short distance. It consisted of about a thousand 9ouls» 
I pitched my tent at some distance, in a beautiful pas- 
ture, on the margin of a fine stream, and invited the 
great chief to partake of a supper with me. As I said 
grace before meal^ he enquired of the Canadian what 
I was about. He is addressing the Great Spirit, was 

to our volume xx^i. p- j]«p coir iR?. By Kht "Jjintonuift*' ftckd " J&Dtoni," De 
SrwI irLtrndA Uu modcra V^akloui and V^nkLoa.^ Co, 


Early WestfTJi Travfh 

[Va. 37 

the rqrfy, in gratitude for the food he has granted us. 
The chief nodded a sign of approbation. Shortly after, 
twelve warriors, in full costume, stretched a, large buffalo 
robe before th« place where I sat. The chief, taking 
me by Ihe arm. invited me to sit down, 1 was under 
the impression that there was [35] question &f;atn of 
smoking the calumel. Judge of my astonishment, when 
Ihe twelve warriors, setdnf^ each a piece of the robe, 
took me up, and headed by their chief, carried me in 
triumph to their village. In the lodge of the great chief 
the most conspicuous place was assigned me, and be 
addressed me thus: "This day is the happiest of my 
life- For the first lime do we behold among us a man 
who 13 so closely united with the Great Spirit. Black- 
gown, you see before you the chief warriors of my tribe; 
I have invited them to this feast, tn order that they may 
keep the remembrance of your coming among us as long 
as they shall live/* Then he invited me to speak again 
to the Great Spirit, (to say grace), I began in the name 
of the Father and of the Son, etc., and immediately all 
present lifttxl up their hands towards heaven; when I 
bad concluded they all struck the ground. I asked 
tlw chief what ihey meant by this ceremony- *'Wben 
we lift up our hands/' said he, '*we ^gnify that all our 
dependence Is on the Great Spirit, ^nd that he in his 
fatherly care provides for all our wants: we strike the 
ground to signify that we are only worms and miser- 
able creeping beings in his sight/* He asked me in his 
turn, what I had told to the Great Spirit. Unhappily, 
the Canadian was a poor interpreter, still I endeavored 
to make them understand, as well as I could, the Lord's 
Prayer. The chief showed great eagerness to know 
what I said,— He ordered his son and two other very 
intelligent young men to accompany me to the fort, in 

iMi-i^a] Df Smefs L^ttrs end Sketches 


order lo Icam the principles of Ihc Christian doctrine, 
and to be at the same time a safeguard againiit the 
Indians who mij;ht be inimically disposed towards us. 
Two days afterwards wc met an Indian, whose horse 
was bending under a load of bufTalo meat. Seeing us 
without provisions, he r^iqucslcd us to accept what wc 
might stand in need of, advising us to take [a6] the 
whole, for. said he, in the vicinity of the fort, game is 
very scarce. Five d^ys afterwards we arrived at Fort 
Pierre. Thence I travelled through prairies for nineteen 
days successively. We were often obliged lo cook our 
victuals with dried herbs — not a stick was to be found. 
When 1 arrived at Fort Vermillion,'* I was apprised that 
the Santees had been on a warlike expedition against the 
Potlawatomies, of the Council BlulTs, among whom I 
had labored the two preceding years." 

I invited them to a council, and gave them a severe 
reprimand for violating the solemn promise they had 

■ VrnnillJon Post, r»i«bll«hfr1 il^^ tT»rIJn( *ith ihr k«fr Sioui iribea, wnt 
loottd on tb* Hit bftivk of the MLsaouri. !«□ iciLh belov ihe mouth of lli« Vrr- 
vtiUtML The shiftlnK «^r the Mfourt but >iuic iSSi rtndeml dlifEcuh ihe Vx^Aot 
of fhc ok) pfMi, uhifh w drvribfifl hy Aiifhibnn. wha pftsstd ihrrt in i£4ji ve 
U- R- AuduboD, Ati^Mhtm an4 kit Jtrufiuh (Ne« York, 1897), u pp 49%. 494- 
AlHXOi^ik South Dcktrta lUilvriial CpU^^ont. i, pp, 376, 377. Dickson'i pOBti 
Mkatr (bUp41 fon VrrmlflbTi, vu v>ttip milft aboiv ih^ rtvpr of Ihii ciJim^, Sm 
our mlumc taiy^ p. oj, note jj. It it jncrtt^ifl which po»t in Louniicd. — Kk>, 

** By thr xtfiiy fniiie fli C'hLci^ in Sppifmbtrn iH^j, fh^ roiawatnmi, Oiitwii, 
■nd Chi^^mtn cvied to Iho Unitnl Staiu i^verntnenl iboul Bvr miUfcoi vnft 
of laodp whcrrupC4] ibr Ptjiawaiomi wcic aBigncd io a rvKtvaiion bctwcca tht 
w f Mn ri \cr^tn of thv ilitF of Uusouri knd tb« MioMtin "kivrr, in whBt «>i 
Ulcr kna^TQ ^ the PUltr purchuc. TbS* it«ct «ki InMrpctF^ud vith MU»uri 
\a t^ifit iLEiJ iJir Imliui iribr wa* Irtnfefrrml ta ■ mrrTAliun In ■i>ijlbim(c(ri 
loifn, with Council ItUifft 11 thrir rhirf villaur Hprf in Tft^S Fslhpr Vrrrryilt. 
vrilh FAlher dr Smcl tnd two liy fcro(lk«n> kud ihc foundiitk>ii ot t miBdoa dr^i- 
CAied to ibc *'Blmcd VEfgfn ftrnl Su JoKph." nhcfe Dc Smci iicrvnl uniil bit 
dqmrttm lor the FUthrtd toumrv (1*40). K»ih« Chritiipiii H»(i#n auf c«<l«1 
him- &r iVi< LKAI7 of 1^6 tbr ri>u«'fclomJ wen tranHfrrrrcl from low* loK«n- 
m, whcrv laothcr CathoUc mJuioii wu brguii ununi tfano, fft((Uffnilj' litibcd 
by Uc Snvt in bis Ibipi Jife- — Ep- 


Earijt WftUm Yraveh 

tVol. »7 

made mc the preceding year, of Ihing with thdr nei^- 
bors on amJcabLtr trnns. I showed them ihe injustice 
of attacking a peaceable nation without being provoked; 
the dreadful consequences of the Pottawatomics' revenge, 
that might end in the extinction of their tribe. T was 
re()ue^ed to be onee more the mediatcv^ and they told me 
that they had resolved to bury the tomahawk forever.'* 

I had lost two horses on the road; the one I was 
riding could hardly support me any longer, and I 
was yet three hundred miles distance from the Council 
Bluffs. I resolved of course to embark on the Missouri, 
and engaged a native Iroquois to be my pilot. At first 
we were favored with fine weather, but this lasted only 
a few days. Very soon inclement weather set in with 
frost and snow; and several times as we drifted down 
the rapid <itrcam, our frail canoe was on the point of 
being dashed to pieces against the numberless snags that 
obstruct its navigation. This dangerous trip lasted ten 
days. We generally spent the night on a sand bar. We 
had only a few frozen potatoes left when we perceived 
a beautiful deer gazing at us, and apparently waiting to 
receive its mortal blow. We shot at it- [37] At last we 
arrived safe at the bluSs, and on the same night the nver 
was closed by ice- 
So many escapes from the midst of so many dangers 
thoroughly convinced me that this undertaking is the 
work of God — omnia disponens fortiter et ad fincm 
suam conducens suaviter. (Who reaclieth from end to 
end mightily, and ordereth all things sweetly.) I am now 

^ In tSjo Father d« Smet uadcTtoolc m jourrwy From Si- Joveph's mu^oo. kt 
Council RIuQei, inio tbr Sknin Ifiriturr for ibc purpoH uf ffiming k trvatf Ii^ 
tve^n (hrw mbn iind Ihp Pdtatfiilnmj. Rp limvlrd \\\c Minouri in \ht iifamcr 
til iht Afnerican Fur Corrpany, on which J. N. Nicollet, the famuui Hvuffrftphor* 
was likcwiac & pMaicngEr, Sec Chitteiuica and ItiLhiirduni O* 3itt, \. pp. 17Q< 
1^9^ EO. 

iS4t-rfi4i] Df Smft'j Letters and Sketches 


preparing for my return, and will slarl early in Springs 
accompanied by three Fathers and sts many Brothers. 
You ZTt aware such expeditions cannot be undertaken 
without the nece3:tiLry means, and the fact ia, I have no 
other reliance than Providence and the kindness of my 
friends. I hope they will not be wanting. I know thai 
you must feel deeply interested in this meritorious good 
work, I therefore take the Liberty of recommending it to 
your generoaty, and that of your friends — every little 
contribution will help. I will be very grateful to you, 
if you have the kindness to forward to my address at 
the St. Louis University, Mo,, before the end of March, or 
middle of April, the amount you have coUrcted. 

I recommend myself and my dcai Neophytes to your 
good prayers and holy sacrifices, and rest assured that 
wc ahal! not forget our benefactors. 

P. J- De Smex, S. J- 



University of St Louis, 7th Feb. 1841. 
Very Rev. Father: 

Ik a letter, which I suppose has been communicated 
to you, 1 informed the Bi^op of St. Louis of the results, 
as far as Ihry bear on religion, of my journey to thr Rocky 

* Jtin Plikllp WD Ruothia. bom In AmstfrdEun (i?^^) oi C-'lhaLic pArcrtli, 
etitepHl ■ Jesuit DOVltl»te in KutaU {%^i] and ^r^t eduCAtwl »< Ihe CoHrge ol 
P^lottk, llr ccrnductcd « miuion In Si*itJVfl«nd, uu! **»■ ibf Grf( »upcrigr of 
ibc province of Turin, «hm in iS^g he «■■ drcinj twrniy-fint grccnl of iJui 
itnt«T <il JHuIti, tfi ottn Xn vhirh he rontlDued iinclL his death in iKjj Ur ni 
much Eaiertfltcd In Uic uvervciu mEviuai, in iBjj uiuiaf ma OKirdkAJ on their 
bth4ir— Krj. 


Barfy Watem Travels 

(Vol >7 

M<mntains. But that letter, though lengthy, could give 
you but a very imperfect idea of the Acfuf^xX which T passed 
six months io traversing, and of the tribes who make tt 
the scene of their perpetual and sanguinary rivalship. 
It will, ihcrctorc, I think, be useful to resume the his- 
tory of my mission; and I rrprat it the more willingly, 
since I am called to penetrate af^in into those deep soli- 
tudes, from which. I may, perhaps, never return. To 
my brethren, who take an interest in my dear Indians, 
I owe an account of all my oljservations up<Hi ihrir 
character and customs^ upon the aspect and resources 
of the country they inhabit, and upon their dispositions, 
that they may know how far they are favorable to the 
propagation of the GospeL" 

Wc arrived the iSth of May upon the banks of the 
Nebraska, or Big Horn, which is called by the French 
by the less suitable name of the FUU RivtrV It is one 
of the most magnificent rivers of North America. From 
its source, which is hidden among the remotest moun- 
tains of this vast continent, to the river Missouri, of which 
it is a tributary, it receives a number of torrents descend- 
ing from the [29] Rocky Mountains; it refreshes and fcr- 
tilizes immense vallies, and forms at its mouth the two 
great geographical divisions of the upper and lower Mis- 
souri. As we proceeded up this river, scenes more or 


** Tlie naider will nifLc thai this kllei concerns JUeU with llie umc jmjriGf 
u That ri^triibNl \n Ihp previous epiillp — the fint visit ii> |h« FUthM^ ind 
return (i&4«). DoSmd wrvM 9?Yeral dcs^pdont of thU journry; (h*t <:o(tUiia«a 
in hi» Koyu^j uiu 3/Er*xf<jfnc> Rocht^m b mc^rc dcUiloi tb«D cithrE prratnicd 
h<nln- K l»ruilfltu>D of the Utter ii pn-a in Chiit^ndeii ind Ridurdsan, who 
do nol rvpnni ttuK tetter Eo RnoLhui, — Kd, 

'^ Fi>r a bn«1 rfescnptiort of Nebrsaki or PlsET? (ti&tnr ihallow^ Rtvcr, aH OOT 
volfjnc nv. p- vjQ, note tjQ. \\ it tbt commOD belief Ihat NcbruLt is ibc ftbo- 
rlgfoftl term foi PLiiLe, li^fyin^^'SluLlaw." De^meri fl1tfrnaijvr,"Highrirn," 
n not found clsvwbere- See •!» Nebruki Uittorjc^ Sacuitj- 7 ranfiMf wiu, 
i, p, Tj^ ECi. ^ 

iS4'-i84^] Df Smet'j Letters and Sketcket 


less picturesque opeuai upon our Wew In the middle 
of the Nebraska, thousands of islands, under various 
aspects, presented nearly every form of lovely scenery. 
I hav« se^n some of those isles, which, at a distance, 
might be taken for Sotlllas, mingling their full saiU 
with verdant garlands, or festoons of flowers; and as 
the current flowed rapidly around them, ihcy seemed, as 
it were, flybg on the watery thus coimpleting the charm- 
ing illusion, by this apparent motton. The tree which 
the soil of these islands produces in the greatest abun- 
dance, is a ipecies of white poplar, called cotton tree; 
the savages cut it in winter, and make of the bark, which 
appears to have a good taste, food for their horses. 

Along the banks of the river, vast plains extend, where 
we saw, from time to timr^ innumerable hL-itjs uf wild 
Antelopes. Further on, we met with a quantity of bxif- 
taloes' skulls and bones, regularly arranged m a semi- 
circular form, and painted in different colors. It was 
e monument raised by superstition, (or the Pawnees 
never undertake an expedition against the savages who 
may be hostile to their tribe, or against the wild beasts 
of the forest, M^ithout commencing the chase, or war, 
by some religious ceremony, performed amidst these 
heaps of bones. At the sight of them our huntsmen 
raised a cry of joy; they well knew that the plain of the 
buffaloes was not far off, and they expressed by these 
shouts the anticipated pleasure of spreading havoc among 
the peaceful herds. 

Wishing to obtain a commanding view of the hunt, 
1 got up early in the morning and quitted the camp alone, 
in order to ascend a hillock near our tenu, from which 
I might [50] fully view the widdy extended pasturages. 
After crossing some ravines^ 1 reached an eminence, 
whence I descried a plain, whose radius was about twelve 


Ear/y IVfuem Travels 


miles, entirely covered with wild oxen. You couM not 
form, (rom any thing in your EuropenD markets, an idea 
of their movement and multitude. Just as 1 was 
beginning to view them, I heard ^outs near me^ il was 
our huntsmen, who mpidly rushed down upon the 
afirighlcd herd — the buffalos IcU in great numbers 
beneath their weapons. When they were tired with kill- 
ing them, each cut up bis prey, put behind him his favorite 
pail, and retired, leaving the rest for the voracity of the 
wolves, which arc exceedingly numerous in these places, 
and they did not fail to enjoy the repast. On the fol- 
lowing night I was awakened by a confused noise^ which, 
in the fear of the moment, I mistook for impending dan- 
ger. I imagined^ in my first Icrror, that the Pawnees, 
conitpirJng to dispute with us the passage over their lands, 
bad assembled around our camp^ and that these lugubri* 
ous cries were their signal of attack.— "Where are we>^* 
caid I, abruptly, to my guide. " Hark ye ! — Rest easy/' 
he replied, laying down again in his bed; "we have nothing 
to fear; it 15 the wolves that are howling with joy, after 
their long winter's hunger: they are making a great 
meal to-night on the carcasses of the buETalos, wtuch our 
htmtsmcD have left after them on the plain/' 

On the aiith, wc forded the southern arm of the river 
Platte*'* All the land lying between this river and the 
great mountains is only a heath, almost univer^lly cov- 
ered with lava and other volcanic substances. This sterile 
country^ says a modem traveller," resembles, in nakedness 

** For ih« T<rMt« Af fh« Arit panlan of iht Ongan tnll, over «Hldi De Smei 
veol aut, AOc Wyrlh'ii Oregon, ia our vDlumo xu^ p^ <^, nnic 30- There were 
BCvoraJ fording; ploj^ci foi ihc South PLiille> dcpTDdiai; upoo the Sa.U o\ itic rtv^r^ 
In tutvrqufnE poirFS. TVSirfI eivri a vli*Ld d^scriTitton of the difficulllH &Tid 
dADgen of trosdlng (his s<rt«mp Sec kIm FrffDOQl't ^couat in StnaU D9e%., 9% 
Coag,, i Ku., it, — KiT' 

" Sec Wuhinglon Irving, At^i<t ^PhiUddphioi ifi^i)^ chapter jodi. — Bd> 

1941-1^43] Dt Smet'j Lefffrj and Skftcha 


and the monolonuus undulalions of its soil^ ihe sandy 
deserts of Asia, Here no permanent dwelling has ever been 
erected, and even the huntsman seldom appeal^ in the 
best seasons of the year. At all other times the gnus 
is wiihered, the [31] streams dried up; the buffalo, the 
stag, and the antelope, desert these dreary plains, and 
retire with the expiring verdure, leaving behind them 
a vast solitude cxjinpletely uninhabited. Deep ravines 
formerly the beds of impetuous torrents^ intersect it 
in every direction, but now-a-<Jays the sight of them only 
adds to the painful thirst which tortures the traveller. 
Here and there are heaps of stones, piled confusedly 
like ruins; ridges of rock, which rise up before you 
like impassible barriers, and which interrupt, without 
embellishing, the wearisome sameness of these solitudes. 
Such are the Black Hills; beyond these rise the Rocky 
Mountains, the imposing land marks of the Atlantic 
world. The passes and vallies of this vast chain of 
mountains affonj an asylum to a great number of savage 
tribes^ many of whom are only the miserable remnants 
of difiEerent pcopkt who were formerly in the peaceable 
possession of the land, but are now driven back by war 
into almost inaccessible defiles, where spoliation can 
pursue ihem no further. 

This desert of the West, such as I have just described 
it, seems to defy the industry of civilized man. Some 
lands, more advantageously situatnl upon the banks 
of rivers, might, perhaps, be successfully reduced to cul- 
tivation; others might be turned into pastures as fertile 
as those of the East — but it is to be feared that this 
immense region forms a limit between civilization and 
barbarism, and that bands of malefactors, organised 
like the Caravans of the Arabs, may here practise their 
depredations with impunity. This country will, perhaps^ 


Earfy Western TravcU 


one da^t be the cradle of a new people, composed or the 
tncient savage races, and of that class of adventurers, 
fugith^es and exiles, that society has cast forth from its 
bosom — a heterogeneous and dangerous population, which 
the American Union has c!ollectcd like a [32] portentous 
cloud upon its frontiers, and whose force and irritation 
it is constantly increasing, by transporting entire tiibes 
of Indians from the banks of the Mississippi, where they 
were bom, into the solitudes of the West, which arc 
as^^t-d as Ihrir plao^ of exile, These savages cany 
with them an implacable haired towards the whites, for 
having, they say. unjustly driven them from their country, 
far from the tombs of their fathers, in order to lake 
possession of their inheritance. Should some of (hese 
tribes hereafter form themselves into hordes, similar to the 
wandering people, partly shepherds, and partly warriors, 
who traverse with their flocks the plains of Upper Asia, 
is there not reason 10 fear, that in process of time, they 
with others, may organize themselves into bands of 
pillagers and assassins, having the fleet horses of the 
prairies to carry them; with the desert as the scene of their 
outrage*;, and inaccessible rocks to secure their lives 
and plunder? 

On the 4lh of June we crossed the Ramec, a tributary 
river of the Platte.** About forty tents erected on its 
banks, served as dwellings for a part of the tril>e of the 
Sheyennes, These Indians are distinguishable for their 
civility^ their cleanly and decent habits. The men, in 
general, are of good stature, and of great strength; their 
nose is aquiline, and their chin strongly developed. The 

*" Laramie River, one of iht pnndpal uibmnrica of the North PUi-t?* riwi in 
Tturlhem CuLoiadtx fluwi tiuftli through Alba C4>urLty, WyomEng. ajid brukins 
Ibiough Eh* Lanm^e MuunUrni itLrnn north«Ai(t inlu the PUlte, The niime i% 
dfiived froiD ■ Fnnch C^tHdjuo trapp^j, Jicqacii lAtanue, who fibout i&«0 
wu UELrd upon \a uppa watcrii by ihf Anptho— Ed. 


1841-1^42) De Smef's Lftters and Sketches 


neighboring nations consider them the most courageous 
warriors of the prairies- Their history In the same as 
that of all the savages who have been driven back into 
the West — they arc only the shadow of the once power- 
ful nation of ihr Shaways, who formerly lived upon the 
banks of the Red River. The Scioux, their irreconcil- 
able enemies, forced them, after a dreadful war, to pass 
over the Missouri, and to retreat behind the Warrican, 
where they fortiiiLT] themselves; but the conquerors again 
attacked them, and drove them from [3^] post to post, into 
the midst of the Black Coasts, situate upon the waters 
of the Great Sheycnne River-*' In cxinsequence of these 
reverses, their tribe, reduced to two thousand souls, has 
lost even its name, being now called Sheyennes, from 
the name of the river that protects the remnant of the 
tribe. The Sheyennes have not since sought to form 
any fixed establishment, lest the Sctoux should come 
again to dispute with them the lands which they might 
have chosen for their country. They live by hunting, 
and follow the buffalo in his various migrations- 

The principal warriors of the nation invited me to a 
solemn banquet, in which three of the great chief's best 

' Tbis infonnaiiMi u to th« cripn of th» Chfyena« ii dnivtd from Lcvla's 
SHJtMkai Vidw (LoiuU^n. jSq7V Soc Orifimtl /imrrt,ih H i/u UuHi ami Ctofk 
ExfitfitiBK. vi, p- if», It II now foncedsvl Ihut th» Chnypnnp. with Ihrif 
kiikdnd tribe tb« AnptTu, pPobBhly otw dvrit about ihc waters ol the 
Si. CroU lUfTTi In WiAcDiuin, Thwr uibot quhq (acfufttlog to Lcmli) vts 
Shftrhft (ShAviLj], peaably a variant of t^ Sioux fomi ShftleU or SbAlvru^ 
wbcocr thcii pmcnt DAmc- .^ppAmilly tbry were dnvcn north wc*twtrd from 
ibdf WlfCDdxJti Imbiut. jind tni wttlnl upon CbeTrnnp Rlwt, Ntoth DakoU — 
■ ihbutiiry o( Rvd Kivvr of ihf NorHi- Jc u conjectured l}ut Ihej w^re lor<e4 
luuthvcat by ihc Sioui^ Tbc WufOCOQna. vrhtn ihcy mjvle ibcir liiul MaoiI, 
^Ibc prrvrni His Branrp in lUiiiinoiu Couaiy, Nortli OJikciU^ A^vnnlfnt 10 
June tr»4ition, llu-y *tfe Tonntftly *ri »griruliur*I people, fomd iot* rom^dic 
k*Uu by tbcK TArioui rctnovitU. 

Thft tmn "Btack Cmis" b ma Incnnva truuUllan at *'C6t« NtrifK" Blick 
tftllft S«t «UT vduanc Ttiti, p M4. Boi* 104^ — Ep- 


Eariy H^estfm Travels 


dogs were served up to do me honor. I had half a. one 
for my share. You may judge of my embarrassmeol, 
when I tell you that I attended one of those feasts at which 
every one j^ to eat all that is offered to him. Fortunately, 
one may call to his aid Another guest, provided that the 
refjuest to perfonn the kiml office be accompanied by 
a present of tobaoco. 

In our way from Ramec, the sojourn of (he Shcycnnes, 
to the Green River, where the Flat Heads were waiting 
(or me, we successively passed the Black HiUs, which 
owe this name not to the color of the soil and rocks thai 
fonn them, but to the sombre verdure of the cedars and 
pines that shadow their sides; the Red Bute," a central 
point by which the savages are conthiually crossing, when 
emif^ting to the West, or going up towards the North; 
and the famous rock, Independence, which is detached, 
like an outwork, from (he immense chain of mountains 
that divide North America. It might l>e called the great 
registry of the desert, for on it may be read in large 
characters the names of the several travellers who have 
visited the Rocky Moimtains. My name figures amongst 
so many others^ as [34] thai of the first priest who has 
visited these solitary regions," These mountains have 
been designated the back-hone of the world. In fact a 
fitter appellation could not be given to these enormous 
masses of granite, whose summit is elevated nearly twenty- 
four thousand feet above the level of the sea; they arc 
but rocks piled upon rocks. One might think that he 
beheld the ruins of a world covered, if I may so speak, 
with a winding-sheet of everlasting snow. 

' Fof Red BullK soi Towmend't Narraiivt, in our volume xn, pr i8], in- 
clvdiofC ^ff^ 51 ■' — ^i>' 

' For lodcpccdcncc EUxk ux Wyetb'» Or«X"<* ^° ^^^ volume nd« p. SJr 
note J4.— *£a. 

t54i-i84>l Df Smtfj Lettm and SifUhct 


I sball here tBlemipt the recital of my journey, to give 
& short account of the different tribes of the mountains, 
and of the territory they inhabit. I will join with my 
owm personal nbservalions the most correct infamiiitioD 
that I could possibly obtain. 

The Soshorces, or Root-diggers, appeared in great num- 
bers at the common rende/.vuu*, where the deputations 
from all the tribes assemble every year, to ejcchange 
the products of their rude industry. They tnhaUt the 
southern part of the Oregon, in the vicinity of California. 
Their population, consisting of about ten thousand souls, 
is dividend into several parties^ scattered up and down 
ID the most uncultivated quarter of the West. They 
are called Snakes, because in their indigence Ihcy arc 
reduced, like such reptiles, to burrow in ihr earth and 
live upon roots. They would have no other food if some 
huntmg parties did not occasionally pass beyond the 
mountains in pursuit of the bufTalo, while a part of the 
tribe proceeds along the banks of the Salmon River, 10 
make provision for the winter, at the season when the 
&3h come up from the sea*" Three hundred of their 
warriors wished, in honor of the whilesT to go through 
a sort of military parade: they were hideously painted, 
armed with their clubs, and cohered over with fcather3, 
pearls, wolves' tails, the teeth and clawa of animals and 
similar strange ornaments, with which each of them [35] 
had decked himBclf, according to his caprice. Such as had 
received wounds in battle, or slain the enemies of their 
liibc, showed ostentatiously their scars, and bad float- 
ing, in the form of a standard, the Kcalps which they won 
from the conquered. After having rushed in good order, 
and at full gallop, upon our camp, as if to take it by 

*■ Fcr A dccdk of thia rncr mc WpA^ O^fMit te otfr mlom* ni, p. 69, 
Dale 4(1^ — £»- 

l64 Eariy Westfrn Travfli [VoL 2j 

assault, Ihcy wenr several times round it» uttering at 
intcnals cries of joy. They at length dismounted, and 
came and gave their hands to all the whites in token 
of union and friendship. 

Whilst I was at the rendezvous* the Snakes were pre- 
paring for an expedition against the HWk-Feier \\1ien 
a chief is about to wage war, be announces his intention 
to his young warriors in the folJowing manner. On the 
evening before his departure, he makes his farewell dance 
before each cabin; and everywhere receives totiacco, or 
some other present. His friends wish him great success^ 
scalps^ horses, and a speedy return. If he brings bock 
women as prisoners, he delivers them as a prey to the 
wives, mothers, and sisters of his soldiers, who kill them 
with the hatchet or knife, after having vented against 
their unhappy captives the most outrageous insults: 
"Why arc we unaWe," howl these furies, "to devour the 
heart of thy chtkJren, and bathe in the blood of thj 

At the death o! a chief, or other warrior, renowned 
for his bravery, his wives, children, and relatives cut off 
Ihelr hfur: this is a great mourning with the savages. 
The loss of a parent would seem but little felt, if it only 
caused his family to ^ed tears: it must be deplored with 
blood; and the deeper the incisions, the more mncere 
is the aSeciion for the deceased- "An overwhelming 
sorrow,'* they say, ''cannot be vented unless through 
large wounds," 1 know not how to reconcile these sen* 
timents respecting the dead with their conduct towards 
the living- Would you believe [36! that these men, so 
inconsolable in their mourning, abandon, without pity, 
to the ferocious beasts of the desert, the old men, the 
sick, and all those whose existence would be a burden 
to them? 

iB4I'|B4a] Dc Smtt'i Letters and Sketches 


The funeral of a Snake warrior is always performed 
by the dcstnictioD of whatever he possessed: nothing, 
it seemsT should survive liim but the recollection oT his 
exploits. After piling up in his hut all the anicles he 
mode use of, the)' cut away the props of the cabin, and 
set the whole on fire. The Youls, who fonn a separate 
people, although they belong to the tribe of ihe Soshonees,** 
throw the body of the deceased upon the funeral pile, 
together with a hecatomb of his best horses. The 
momeDt ihM the smoke rises in tJiJck clouHs, thc^y think 
that the soul of the savage is Sying towards the region 
of spirits, borne by the mams of his faithful coursers; 
and, in order to quicken their flight, they, aU together, 
raise up frightful yells. But in general, instead of burn- 
ing the body, they fasten it upon his favourite charger, 
as on a day of battle; the animal is then led to the 
edge of a neighboring river, the warriors arc drawn up 
in a semicircular form, in order to prevent his escape; 
and then, with a shower of arrows, and a universal 
hurra, they force him to plunge into the current which 
is to engulf him. They next, with redoubled shouts, 
recommend him to transport his master without delay to 
the land of spirits," 

(37] The Sampeetches are the next neighbours of the 

*Tbc tJtc belong* u DeSmd Mys, lu the Shoshancafi Mock, and ari^ndlly 
occupitii Xht CDU^tn' difrrlly wuth of ihc hablUt of ihc Sn*kr IndbnA. or Sho- 
thoni ^>rDper» which prrenilFd fmm t>v It^iclr^ MounLiin<t id California. The l?tf 
wen dlviilt<] tnio aumcruuA tundi, difftnalTy cliLHifird by variDUB nuthontivs, 
4ad when hn\ km>wji iu ibc whtus numbt^J ulnut fovi ibuu>&ni3 sfubt. Ttitic 
UP now iiT«T two thuuund on tnti nrHmalSons — the Snuthnrn Vxt in south- 
WMtecn CcikiiiidOi &ad the other iMndi on the UniU ruerrHtJon, in north«B4tciri 
Uub.— Go. 

" AkboujEb this mottc of fuivnJ cKlaia bmc>nf^i the SniLr^H i\ h not, hovrcvcr, 
summon 10 4II the lndiaa nitm. Amongal Lht propLc nhn live on ihr bcnlm 
of Ulc» Abbitibbi, in Lower Candd«, m wun at a vramor happriu to d\*. th*y 
vnp the body in « ahroudi lowei it iaU> ■ ETAVr about a fcx>L and n bnlf dnp^ 
Aod pljiTf ftlongildr it a pal, % knife, a pin, and ivUi oUvr irticlci u mxc of pftcAC 


Earfy IVtsunt Travels 


Snakes.** There is Dot, perhaps, \n the whole world, a 
people in a [38] deeper stale of wretchedness and comip- 

DC«t*iMt7 M eIw uTftgEL Some difm 4R?t the burial. Uie nlatforLB Of the <lMeMed 
iKfrnhli: lo aou^ «va- hii fttvc^ They tbcQ bAn^ (>TCKnto uptia tic ttcanat 
Im. pvlkalulT lobamu forthr»mli»f thr ikir-^vvj. vhkh id lu oenw oaaMonalljr 

tnd vnok« up^n thp ct>tt, vhrrv ih« body ii Laid. Tbrj lU^t'^ef th«t th« poof 
«i>uJ U vmadcda^ out fu liocu Lhcacc, i^ritU the b>jf b«cmcft pulriicti; tiler 
vhich ll Bin up tA hokvrn, Ttv tiudy of ■ wldsl mia. ihcy niTi uk«* ■ lungrr 
lim* to ccmipt thfta llut nC ■ |pv>d man^ Hhirh prokaagi his ptinishcitnt. Such, 
in Itidr opinion, b tht oolr pu&dhmcal oX a bad lifc- 

lo CahnnbU vr fbd tlioi i diflmni cuiunn prrTalli, TtinT. *o toon A4lbe 
p*piOQ etpirviv hi* tyt* %rt bouDd vUh « Hfklbn o| gku hculi; hi« no^trlU 
G[|f4 with AU^ua (a sh<l1 b4c4 br the IncLUn* in pUct cJ m9ncT),aiul he U clothed 
ia his brsl mil ahI vtatJpc<] in a wia'lina-ibnrt Four pcnla. fixird in [he |^und. 
tod jolDVd by crOM bHmi, iippirl tbt snal lomb of (he uvagc: the lamb iEhK 
U ft Gittot» plaOBJ It « fcrUjTi t>ci)(hi ffum Oic^ jfniund, upoct lh« beav* 1 h«te 
Ju»t mrnlkiDed. The lady ia depositeil therriD, with the Ibce davn«ani«. and 
th* head tu™edinih«Mm*<1if«t»ft ntHcomrw af The nwr S/^me mjit?; thrown 
UE»a tht <uioc tinlsh the certnioQV, Otferinft>. ul aihicb the valoc VAiics with lh« 
mot of the dfff**cd. ue nen prncntot [a him: «ad his gun< pmvfkF-haTn and 
«hot-b*4 an pUnd at hia iidei- 

Anick» tA las value, ftuch u a wooden bowl, a large pot, ■ hatchet, arrow*. 
ICr. are hung Ufrm potri fitrid arniind the ttnot. Nm ounn the mbuir of 
■allfOf , vhlch hiubandi and wivea om Xa auJi other, and ii> ihdr d«cea««l pbrecLU. 
and ebo u^ tbcJr cbildrrn: fut a tnunlH, and uften lunflcr, tbcT tuattrually kholf 
night and day, tears, arrjimpanirrl wjh crirt an'l (rrnnn*> ibat »rr hntrd at a (rral 
di«iance. If the canoe happrn t? fall do^ti in ^ounc of time, the mnflina of th« 
dc«a0rd uv D>Ekclal <ti«?r«] a^a^a viUi a mudkiK-il^mH aiut dc[>jaUnl In ad- 
othcf ran(»- — EMr/ia 0} a iMff Jran Irf. Dtwffi. }fiaitju/iry Amtnz the Sav^igtS. 

Softi* irKlivi<luals of other Iribaa, ttKn by Father da !%m«t on hi« tour, ar* d%« 
fofiovbiK^ TTic KootFDaya and the rarrftn. with a population of 4.000 wub. 
the SwngB at the \^kv. who are rcnnpuied ai about 500. the CauMrons teo. the 
OMn^ynet i.teo, Ihe Jaatooa and Santeva 300. the Jaatonneca 4.S00. ih« Slack- 
Feet Sc^oua 1,500, the Two-Catildnmi 80^ the Ampapaa j.odo, the Burned a-soo. 
tha l^rk'ftow* ipooch th(< MlnEkomjoos JhCoc, thf OgvUalWa i.$oa. thr Saof- 
nfa 3,000. tb« ITnbfpaliQes a,(Kc. the Mandans, Big-BcUiei, and Ankaiaa. 
who haTc fanned of tbcii rt«unaat> one Lilbc> ^.ooo. the Piemrd-Noaea, 
t.^co. the ICayusfft >,oa). Ihe Walla^WalUa s^m. the Pakoacs 31M, (he Spokanea 
BoOh Ihv ?oJDtcd- Hearts 700, ih« Crow^ the Auinhotni, the Ottoa, the Pawnees, 
the Santro. (he Rvoarda. the Aonays. the Kikapou^ ihe Delavarei. and the 
Shawanonss whow niimhets afr unkriowti. Tht fallowing are the name* of the 
principal chEefi. who received the MiaaioDory in their tent*' The Big-Face and 
Walking- Bear, the Tairiardia of the Flai-fteadB and Potideib. (he Iroii'CTOw, 
the Oood<Heart, ihe Dn^»-Hard. the BLack^Eyca. the Man thai doa aot «a.t 
cow'a fleah, and the Warrior who walka barefiK^ekj ; the Utt named it chief of 
the Black'Fcet Sckiua. — De Smbt, 

"''Sampeetch" waa a term ipplinl tn a amall band 0I t'T«dweUiag Inaenml 

v84r-i84>I Df Smet'r Letters and Sketches 


don; the Frtach commonly designate them '"the pfopk 
deserving of piiy," and this appellation is most appropriate," 
Their lands arc uncultivated heaths; their habitations arc 
holes m the rocks, or thv nattiral crtvices of the ground, 
and their only arms, arrows and sharp-pointed sticks. 
Two, three, or at most four of them may be seen in 
company, roving over their sterile pbiins in quest of anl^ 
and grasshoppers, on which they feed. When they find 
some insipid root, or a few naudeous seeds, they make, 
as they imagine, a delicious repast. They arc so timid^ 
that it is dillicuU to get near them; the uppearacice of 
a stranger alarms them; and conventional signs quickly 
spread the news amongst them. Every one, thereupon, 
hides himself in a hole; and in an instant this miserable 
people disappear and vanish like a ^shadow. Sometimes, 
however, they venture out of their hiding places, and 
oSer their newly bom infants to the whites in exchange 
for some trifling articles. 

I have had the consolation of baptizing some of these 
unfortunate beings, who have related to me the sad 
circumstances which I have just mentioned. It would be 
t'asy to find guides among these new converts, and be 
introduced [y^] by them to their fellow countrymen, to 
announce to them the Gospel, and thus to render their 
condition, if not happy, at least supportable through the 
hope of a better futurity. If God allows me to return 
to the Kocky Mountains, and my superiors approve of it. 

Utftb aImk tht Tvnr now known u Su Pilch, with « Vttlky und mountun nngn 
«i the Hunt dniEDalion, Tbv oua? waa firqucxLtly ujcd in drsciiplkua of Uli- 
b*ndi unlit Bhnut i5;o, when thnr Inrttnnv rrdunvl {n number :o tpu ttuin ivn 
hundred. «cTe Kgrpgnttd upon the VolU nvervation Lod lofC their diitfocUve 
appclUtion. — El?- 

" la V^yoj^i tfttv AffofciffHJ Roihtmtct, conudnlng the French ori^iul of 
lUft trcwr. Fuhrr de Smct classes IIk; PhJuIc aai\ Viuiviah Uir with ihe Siun- 
p<4L:hi!i iki the tribn calbd bj- thp Frrnrh Ut Pigrv^ tU piti4 — Ed. 


Early Western Travels 

[Vol. =17 

1 shall feel happy to devote myself to the instn^ctJon of 
these piiicbie pcopk. 

The country of the Ulaws is situated to the cast and 
south t^sl of the Soshonees, at the sources of the Rio 
Colorado- The population consists of about 4,000 souls. 
Mildness. aSabilily, simplicity of manners, hospitality 
lon&rds stranger^ constant union amongst themselves, 
fonn the happy traits in their cha^racter. The)* subsiM 
by hunting and fishing, and on fniits and roots; the 
climate is warm, and the land very fit for culth^ation. 

I fthall join to this account a brief expotiition of the 
belief of the savagea.** Their religious tenets are com- 
posed of a few primitive truths and of gross errors: they 
believe in the existence of a Supreme Being, the source 
of every good, and consequently that he alone is adorable; 
tbey believe that he created whatever exists, and that 
his providence over-rules the principal events of life, and 
that the calamities which befall the human tace are chas* 
tiwrncnts inflicted by his justice on our perversity. They 
suppose, that with this, Iheir Gocl» whom they call the Great 
Spirii, there exists an evil genius, who so far abuses his 
power as to oppress the innocent with calamities. They 
also believe in a future life, where every one shall be treated 
according to his works; that the happiness resent for 
the virtuous will consist in the enjoyment of such goods 
as they m05t anxiously desired upon earth; and that 
the wHcked &hall be punished by suffering, without cwisola- 
tion, the torments invented by the spirit of evil. Accord- 
ing to their opiniont [40] the soul, upon its entry into the 
other world, resumes the form which our bodies have had 
in the present life^** 


" A CAAMiiu) H i «i o n MT, vlio Bv«^ tor • kn% time amot ^ mrt^ia, p^ts 

841-1^43) jE^ Smet'j Letters and Sketches 


[41] What 1 am going to add applies chiefly to the tribe 
that I have been lately inslructlrig, Be^des my escort of 
Flat Heads, I had also with me aD iDtrepid Fleming, John 
Baptist de Vclder, who formerly sencd as a grenadier 
under Napoleon. From the battle fields of Europe he 
betook himself to the forests of the New World, where he 
has passed thirty years of his life in pursuit of beavers 

l^e follnwint xrouat cf Th* poputu inuHban ri( thf Tarfiuu rmpectlnj Ihe ttt- 
l4foo of Ihc irorld; — ^"Wklflr, Lh«y u/, wun tNtry wbpm fcrrvtriy; uvl WUluiin. 
ft «pkJl4 01 auboidiiuTc dpitrt ccnuDan^cd ibc casloi It? dive mlo it, in oidcr to 
procure some nrth. Tbr cksLot obeyed ifac order, but tic wu w inX ttut he coahl 
ooi pcmibly dcMcnd to the bottom, and be hxl lu rcivtn without afiy Earth- WU- 
>H"j aolhiDB dncounkKCf!* cEoised the inii*k-r«i viih the (onuait^oii vhJch the 
c&ATOT viu uublc to prTfoTTHr Th« n«w mr«rng?r hdving rttralafil 1 long vrhilr 
under tffticT, tod irhh » htite lucceu as the caaLot, rcturrwd a1id«1 drovnt^l. 
The :at cjpcdcd thftt he should niil be tniuircd * Kfood tiiaeH u he had nlrcAdy 
Qurlr Lwi hl& lir'. Hul W&flk«Ln, wh^ wu ool distoutHged by ohsrarln. dirPL^Tol 
the rit to dive tgoin, ;>romuing hon^ that If he ibouLd htppen \a be drowned, he 
fWisWA^ would Kdtorc him to life, Tbe nl divtd a Ktnni LimCj and dqa<1c 
The greaieai eflorta to tomplj with WUkun^s crdrrs. Afirr remiSning « (fkri«[d- 
cnble while un<]er the wiiIct, he Afosc to the lurftice, but so exhnuateri by fdtigue 
thai be «u inHnsilTle^ Wiik&Jn. u^nn it fatefij] and minute eKanLlutkin, finds 
At lea^h in the rbtfs of ibe poor animal a tittle «nh, upon vhich he breathH 
with auch eSe<c. that it begjoa to aijgriKDt rapidly, Wliea he hftd thua blovn 
Foi a Long time* feeling aiLduLit \o know If the eaith wu tar^ enough, he ordcrfd 
the rr^iw. which ai thai poiod was as wfaiTe as the avon. to fly round if, and lake 
Its dimenflion5- The <~row c£d accc^dingly, and returned, uying dial the work, 
wda Uju uimHi- WukAio act about bLupvin^ upun the ucth wiib icnewed uiUmi. 
and dlre<tDd the ftow \a raikt a aecond tour round \t. eauiSnnln|| Fifm, at the urik 
tiiaT. not t4> food upon any carcaastbdt hr might see on the wny, Thf crow Kt 
L^ET again vichout looiplaiat, and found, at the pLue vhjch had bren pointed out» 
ihe carrau which he was (orblddea lo touch. Rui, hnving grown hungry an the 
way, aiui bdrtg olao, pcrhafis, eadtcd by gluttony, he filled tiimbeli with the JnftcUd 
mcaiH add oa bis trturn ic Wi^uiD, infomicd hini that the c«tlh waa lante enough, 
and that h* need furtj thereiore, r«ume his wnrk. But the ynlailhful TVeHengcr, 
al hts retufn, found hlm^eif as black as he had been white at hia tetting oul, and 
vnu ihua punished lor ^ disobedience:, and the blade colour comniunjciiced to 
his devendaniB " The above iraditiaa* whkh Imn vjme lErikjng x^estigei *>\ the 
EiatUtlon re^KcEiog oHginil ^a, and tev?rn.l cirrumBtantea of the deluKe, makcft 
no TPcntlOfl wbatcvcr at the creation of man and •oman. and. however ilbjE^cal 
It may t», it is, perhBpit. not more ridlculoui than the syateins flf ceflain pretsndrd 
phikpKppbcrB of the laAt <cntury, who, ia hatred of revelation, have <TLd74i\nJred 
10 ciplaln the formation of tbe cartli. by BubBlhutiug thdr eJttiavii|aDt rvverlea 
lor thv Moialc jKcount. — I>e Sun. 

170 Early IVtstem Travels [VoL %j 

and bears< During the Missionary's journey, he was his 
devx)tcd friend, and the faithful companion of bb dangers. 
He has now taken the resolution to traverse the desert only 
as a guide to the apostles of the Gospel He had alirost 
foTf^cn his native language, except his prayers, and a 
hymn in honour of Mar>\ which his mother taught him 
whenachildpand which he daily recited, when engaged in 
the adv-entuious chase. 

I found the Flat Heads and the Ponderas assembled, to 
tbe number of sixteen hundred, in the beautiful Peters' 
Vallej". You know already the reception ihey gave mc, 
and 1 shall never forget it. Tbe enthusiastic joy with 
which they welcomed my arri^'al — the eating shouts of 
the young warriors — the lean of the a^ed, returning 
thank:^ tn ihe Grf^t Spirit, for having gntntni them the 
fa^'our to see and hear a Bbck-Gown before thdr death — 
that scene, I repeal it. 1 can ne^er forget I shall not 
recount the rcligk>U5 exercises of my mission, as the con- 
soling results of them have been already communicated to 
you. You will, [49] perfatps, take an interest in reading 
the notes I have collected regarding the character and 
habits of my neophytrft. during a sojourn of three months 
amongst them; living Hke them, by the chase and on roots, 
ha%nng only a buffalo's hkle for my bed, passing my ni^ts 
under the canopy of heaven, when the weather was calm, or 
taking shelter under a small tent against the furyof the tempest. 

With rc^;ard to the character of these tndians. it is &x- 
lirely pac^. Tlicy never fight, eicept in drcumstanow 
<rf lawful deface; but they are, unfonunatidy, often i^ 
doood to this said oecesEity, in ecviscquence of tbe wattte 
tenpcr of the Black Feet tribe, wbo are their neighbours 
and implacable enemies. That maraudbg people appear 
to li^T only for murder and pillage. "* They ait the terror 

■F«c Fk*?tH Bole (Pe«ct^ VUk?) « W*g&-| ONf>«. k« «» 'h n^ 

i$4i-iaia] J> Sme/'j Letters and Skciehes 


of the savagE^s of the west, who endeavour, as much as pos- 
sible, to avoid their fatal encrmntcr- But should the Flat 
Heads, Dotwithstanding such precautioD, be forctd to fight, 
theb courage is as conspicuous as their love of peace; for 
they rush impetuously on their adversaries, whom they pre- 
vent from escaping, and generally make them pay dear for 
their cruel attacks. 

It 15 a truth which hn5 become proverbial in the mouii' 
tains, that ODe Flat Head, or one of the Ear Rings, is worth 
four Black Feet. If the Land of the latter meets a delAch- 
inent of Flat Heads, of equal or superior numbers, they 
forthwith appear disposed for peace, unfurl a standard, and 
present a pipe^ in token of friendship. The Flat Heads 
always accept these tokens of amity; but they take care to 
make their enemies sensible thai the motives which influ- 
ence their conduct on «iuch occasions arc fuUy understood. 
"Black Foot," they say, "I take your pipe, but be assured 
that 1 am aware that your heart is disposed for war, and 
that your hands are stained with murder. Let us smoke 
[43] together, as you desire it, though I am convinced that 
bloud will soon be nmde to flow." 

The greatest reproach that could be made to the Flat 
Heads was their excessive love for games of chance, in 
which they often risked all they possessed. The Indians 
of Colombia carried this pa^nn to an almost inconceiv- 
aUe d^;ree; for, after lodng their goods, they would stake 
their own persons, at first playing for one hand, then for 
ihc other; and if the game continued unfavorable to them, 
they played successively for every one of their limbf^ and, 
lasUy, for their head, which, if they lost, they* together with 
their wives and children, became slaves for life. 

p. 63, naE« 41. Coocerning Ibc hoi1iJ« «nrl irnpWatilc chvnrt'-r fi thv llfack- 
fccl tiibci oarvult DiwJtniry'i Travch^ in our volume v* p. v^Oi note lio; &1bo 
Mftiim^ILan'i TfOwfJ, tn our voltmtr juiu> PP' 9<^3- — Ed. 



Earfy Weittm Travels 

(VoK »7 

The ipvemmeni of the nation is cx^nfided to chiefs, who 
hive merited this titli- by thdr experience and exploits^ 
and who pojueHs more or less intluence, according to the 
flcgn» of wittlom and courage they have displayed in coim- 
cil or battle. The chief does not command^ but seeka 10 
penuodc; no tribute is paid to him, but, on the contruy, it 
ffl one of the appendage:* of his dignity to contribute more 
thnn liny olhcr to the public expense. He is generally one 
of the [loorest in the vilUf^e, In consequence of giving away 
hiK (toodfl for the relief of his indigent brethren, or for the 
gencml inlcrcsLs of hiA tribe. Although his power has 
nothing imperiuuH in it, his authority is not the le<is ahso- 
lut«; and it may, without cxaj^ration, be asserted, that 
his wishes are complied with as soon aa known. Should 
any mutinous individual be deaf to his personal command, 
the public voiiT wuukl «x)n c^ him to account for his 
obillnacy. I know not o( any government where so much 
pflmnal liberty is united with greater subordination arid 

All the mountain tribes diScr somewhat from each other 
in their dmts. The men war a lonj; robe, made of ttie 
(44I Kkinfl of the antelo()e or sheep, with shoes tsA gaiters of 
dot or dog*» skin, and a buCTalo hide cloak, covered with 
vooHw doth, [laintrd in vmrious cotoms. The Indian 
huTs to add (wname&t to ornament: hJs loag hair is decked 
with various kinds of (eatfiers, and a git»t nnmbei- of rib- 
band^ Tingi^ and shelK In ortkr 10 gh« sufjplwrss to hb 
limhA. he nihs h» body widi beai^ Ki«a«. <mx which he 
ifMadi a thkt: U>Te of venulboa. ChSdrtn under 
)r»an ^ ai^ are warc^ ewer doched, except 
tbty an aUvwatds dmacd k a mt of nnk^iMdeoC 
tUift^iiUchbaimwdvihtanK. Tter 
^ WMlic iImmHto te lh» «Mr, awl 
hi the TviitT^ The wcncft 

1341-1843] Dc Smets Letten and Sittc/us 


wilh elks' teeth and several rows of pearls. Amongst the 
Arikaras, ihAr giaad dress consists of a fine cbcniise, wilh 
doe-skin shoes and gaiicrs, embroidered in brilliant colours. 
A quiver filled wilh arrows is suspended from the left 
shoulder; and a cap of eagle!^' feathers adorns the brow of 
warriors and huntsmen. He that ha<; killed an enemy on 
his own land is distinguished by having; the talk of wolves 
tied on his legs; the bcar-killer vreais, (or a trophy, the 
claws of that Minimal as a necklace; the privilege of a 
savage who has taken in battle one or more scalps, is to 
have a red hand painted on his mouth, to show that he 
has drunk the blood of his enemies. The Indian is not leas 
proud of his hor^e, the companion of all hb excunuons and 
of all his dangers, and the friend to which he becomes 
extremely attachedn The head, breast, and the flanks of 
the noble animal are covered with scarlet cloth, adomod 
with pearls and fringes^ to which are attachrd a multitude 
of little round bells. Cleanliness is a quality not po&sessed 
by the savage, nor arc the women more particular in this 
respect than the men; for they never wash their pots or 
saucepans; and at [45] their meals they often make use of 
their straw hats, which have no leaf, instead of bowls,** 

As I before mentioned, the only prevailing vice that I 
found amongst the Flat Heads was a passion for games of 
chance — it has since been unanimously abolished. On the 
other hand, they arc scrupulously honest in buying and 
selling. They have never been accused of stealing. When 
ever any lost article is found, it \s immediately given to the 
chief, who informs the tribe of the fad. and restores it to 
the lawful owner. Detraction is a vice unknown even 
amongst the women; and falsehood is particularly odious 


Earfy Wtstirn Travels 


to than. A forked^tODgucd (a h^x) tbcy say, is the scourge 
of a penple. Quarrds and violent anger arc severely pun- 
ished. Ulienever any one happens to &U into truuble, his 
nei^bors hasten to his aid. The gaiety of their disposi- 
tion adds a chann to their union. Even the stzwger ifi 
remv-t?d as a friend; every tent Is open to him, aod that 
which he prefers is considered the most honored. In the 
Rocky >fountains they know not the use of k>cks or bolts. ^ 

In looking at this picture, which 13 in nowise overdrawn, 
you will perhaps a!ik, arc these the people whom civilized 
men call barbarians? We have been too long enoneoufily 
accustomed to judge of all the savages by the Indians on 
the ErooticTs. who have learned the vices of the whiles* 
And e\'cn with respect (o the latter, instead of treating 
them with disdain, ii would perhaps be more just not to 
reproach them with a dcf^dation, of which the example 
has been given them, and which has been promoted by 
selfish and deplorable cupidity. 

The country inhabited by the Flat Heads is as pic- 
turesque as their lives are innocent. We often met in 
the neightx)rbood of the seveml encampments of the tribe, 
majestic torrents, forests with trees that have been growing 
for ages, [46] and jwistures cowred with the tfavdUT*5 (ea, 
which, although trampled by numl>erless hordes, embalms the 
air vrith its delightful fragrance,** We continually beheld 
a grand succession of lofty mountains: some delighted 
the sight by iheLr blooming verdure and the impogii^ 
appearance of the utxkIs that crowned their summits, whQe 
others, as red as brick, bore the impressions of some great 
convulsion of nature. At the base of the latter may be 

• Compan mth tbk Ibe dncriptioa of tht nkO^wb fitn Id 1814 hf &cv 
Ccflu Aivnit^M tm ikt CWinM. JC^^r (Nrir Yorfc, tap), pjv lai-ttr— ECL 
" PivImU]' out mutbor hctv nten lo Lhv vNr-b(U*h of the Wcviaft nl^VL 


id4i-i84a] Df Smets Letieri and Sketched 


seen piled up layers of lava, and at their lops the andcnt 
craters are easily distinguished. Ooe day, as the tribe was 
proceeding towards the banks of the lak<^ Henry,*' I felt a 
desire to ascend to the top of a mountain, situate between 
the waters of the Colombia and the Missouri, in the hope 
of discovering the exact place where those two great rivers 
rise, and the distance between them. I succeeded in find- 
ing one of their sources; they form two torrents, which, 
being dividi-d wheir thty rise, l?y the distance of scaitre a 
hundred paces^ continually diverge as they descend towards 
the plain." Their course over the rocks presents an 
enchanting sight: they do not flow along, but roll from 
cascade lo cascade; and nothing is comparable to (he 
beauty of their tx>unding waters, except the distant noise 
of their fall, repeated by the echoes ol the sohtary 

Finding it impossible lo gel to the highest top of the 
mountain that overlooks these sources, I stopped when I 
had reached an elevation of 5,000 fed/' 1 then cast my 
eyes upon the immense region that lay extended at my 
feet; I contemplated to myself all the tribes upon the 
banks of the Missouri, as far as Council Bluffs: I thought 
on my dear colleagues, who are sent by Providence, like 
angels of salvation, amongst these savages hordes; and t 
considered, with mixed feelings of joy and grief, their 
labors, consolations, and hopes, and how disproportionate 

•■DcSidcI had mtompamcrt lh< ttidiani Jti AttT joiiiiwy Irom Picrre'i Hofe 
tnicvqrd uid then iwrtfaward abng ihe Ttlon Rivri [o Iti juEKtkiii with the 
Kcnrf; theac* th#y proc«ed^ ijp thai tmun 1f> lt» tourcv in Henry L^f. the 
Dortbcutcrn ciHncr af Idaha- Ai ihc kiiucc uf a chief fuck of ihc Shi^e, tbia 
li one ol lli« mountAin origiiu of ihe Columbia It *u Damrd for Aodrcw Hcory, 
ftn ftdvtiiTun>u$ iFftder, for whom k« our voLiime rr. |> 34 6^ note i a? — lili>r 

•' Probably ihc Btrco/n ihat run* inio Red IUmJi Lakct In TOuihneJltm Mon- 
tuu, the «une of Jrflc»*]n River, iht mairt brnnrb iil Ihp Mimiuri- — Ko- 

^ This vu the main (Ilhiii of the Rockiui olj tbc bouudoi; beLvrcen IJvIhj 
Bftd MooUnn, )u$t «bnve the prHnii Rcynoldi Fhk.^ Ed. 


Barfy Wattrn Travels 


is tbeir number [47] to th« peopk rcqainng the aid of 
their ministry. Kind people, what hituritf awaits tbcc? 
Holy Missiooers, what recompense is reserv ed for your sclf- 
devoboD i I remembered that they and I haxT in heaven 
a powcxiul intercessor in the illustrious iounder of our 
Sodrty . and in order to interest him in our d^U' misskms, 
from ihe summit of that mountain from wfaicb I could 
nearly view them all. I placed them under his protection. 
I would bin persuade myself that he will not prore 
forgetful of hts followers, who ^rt endeavormg to plant 
the Gospel in these countries where it has hitherto been 
unknown. Additiooal apostolic teachers will ccHne hither 
to assist us by their Ecal, before the rices of civilizatioa 
and the pnnelyti&ED of error ha^'e multiplied the obstacles 
to the propagation of that faith which all the savages so 
anxiously desire to know, and which, like the Flat Heads 
and the Poodcras, they would practise with gratitude and 

Hhe ^7th of August wi^ the day I fiicd upon for my 
departure.** Seventeen warriors, chosen ftfoa anxingst 
the bravest of the two natiocis, and under the command 
of three chiefs, arrived early in the morning, before the 
eotnjice of my cabin.*' The council of the ancients 


vfaa hftiias oatii lo Red Rock L«k« adfiMed ika^ 
9). vtirt* A^ na|ied m tb* T^am Fttfti ol 

lof hfa wen a 31, U^^ £». 

*JU a bnaMI i gicfaw of u i f i tfi n £un<«a x^ U wk "v uU 

i «f A* l«d M«r, tv «» MMk-Gm sto hid •■MM t^«V 
W AfaoM h««fi« iWm, AlRT c^Mflta^ iB ^ MM ol all 1^ 
Mi h9a»r. tte ptef «Wca ter M tf te ia)i«iMUT*> drpvTv*. k 
folpvBf «ard4. vWrfe ;«Aw Iteto paittaiiF tD Ae iKcthT P^nt, «te iMd 

to iSff Bwolm ol t^ Socirtf lor i^ Pfo^K. 

MVlacltr^*d i T ^ar t ^l bCB V fmt ft t uml ff- — 
mgoiif «»bn« q». b« «« bop* i» »v ;oo 


fS4i-i843] th Smet's LftSirs and Sketches 


appointed them lo [4S] sene as my escort while I should 
be in the country of the Black Feet and of the Crows.** Of 
these two tribes, so hostile to the whites, the fotmcr never 
gives them quarter, and the latter will ^melimes spare 
their lives only to leave them, after having robbed them of 
every thing, to die of hunger in the desert. As wc were 
liable, every instant, to fall into wme ambush, we had 
scQUts &eiit in all directions to reconnoitre the place and 
examine the defiles; and the smallest trace of a man having 
passed before us, was minutely examined. And here wc 
cannot sufficiently admire the wonderful sagacity with which 
Providence has endowed the savage: he wilt tell you, &x)m 
the mere (ootnmrks, the exact day on which the Indian had 
erected his tent on the spot, and how many men and horses 
had been there: whether it was a detachment uf warriors 
or a company of hunters, and the nation to which they 
belong. We selected, every evening, a feivorablc site lor 
our camp, and raised around it a little fort with the tninks 
of dry trees, in order to protect ourselves against any sur* 
prise during the night. 

trc quire atndtiJe <Futl 7011 oaturftHy vrtab W %et your rvUtiaru And frlMvlK< jciax 
lAviu aad couDtrj — w« «hAl1 find the time of jtmt Jilaence itry losg, bul th« 
iviaifi ii sewn oret-— Wt toMdvtd It [u be our doiy to ai*tiubli: UJijrc •f^nt 
dpp&rturf, and to (ipreu our f«?lingi Wf ih&ll onl^ u^ tti«ac Xevr m^rdi' we 
foimcrlji' lod vBiy wicked livei» iml we know ttut diy (o what drctrudion we werv 
h^lcninK' Th?ir wm a thitk cLoud before our cjes; jou hare diipaw*d \i, wo 
VT thfr mn, W« shnll never fi}r^l whtX 70U hjivc doiv ltuI luffprrd for ut.— 
Go Tiow, go dnd tell the Pmyerv, tho*e kind Fmycn> whL> fAke pLry oa o*^ vho 
love u* witluhil k-RDwin^ us^ and *lig ariKJ lu i^Hcita; v' '^^ ^^^ Ltiem lluA 
«iVAgH know hiiEv \it reiTUmbtr a beiufii: go xnd IfU ihtn that wt also prajr 
for (hem, in the dofliro which wc feci to koow them, one day, in the abcrfie ol 
ou coounoa FAthcr^ Scl out. but (ctum Aud insUucl [box wbutn yo^ \iAit 
tMptUed: leave us mrf torevpr in Affliction; dr^iart, wtd in the meanwhile rerrnm- 
bsr that we &re counting the dnya '' — Db Sim^ 

** DrSmet thiiB desTibcs hii ftnite' ~*For two da^rs w« mrrte gmng up [he G*]' 
Ittflk, tJie toutbcrn fork of the Miuoan^ tbence wc cnsvd hr a n&rTO" p«sa 
(Bowmin'i) thLny mlka En lentCth to the Yrllowiitoiu TfTer, the vrcand of the 
grot trlbuUrict ol tho Miuanri-'*— ChiUcnden and Rkhafdaon* Oe Sma, i. 

1/8 Earfy iV€St€rn Traw/s (VoL jj 

[49] This rcgkm is the retreat of grizzly bears, the most 
terrible animats of the dcscH, whoBc strength equals thdr 
daring and ^-oradty. I have been assured thai by a sinj^c 
stroke of his paw, one of these animals tore away four ribs 
of a buSalOf which fcU dead at his feet, lie seldom attacks 
maiif unless when he has been surprised and wounded, — 
An Indian, however, belonging to my escort, in passing by 
a thick wood of sallow trees, was assailed by one of thejc 
ferocious bea^^s, Ihat sprung furiously upon his horse^ 
fixed his formidable daws in his back, and brought him 
to the ground. The horseman fortunately was not mounted 
at the time, and having his gun in his hand, the bear 
iutftOtly disappeared in the depths of the fore&t. 

On ttie 5lh of September we crossed a defile, which had 
heen passed shortly before by a numerous troop of horse- 
men. Whether they were allies or enemies, we had no 
means to discover. 1 will here observe, that in these 
immense solitudes, although the howling of wolves, the 
hissing of venomous serpents, the roaring of the tiger and 
the bear be calculated to affright, yet this terror is nothing 
in comparison with the dread excited in the traveller's £oul, 
upon seeing the fresh tracks of men and horses, or columns 
of smoke rising in the neighborhood. At such a sight, (he 
escort at once assembles and deliberates; each one exam- 
ines his fire-arms, sharpens his knife and the point of his 
arrow, and makes, in a word, cver>* preparation for a resist- 
ance, even lo rlejith; for, to sLrreader, in such circum- 
stances, would be to expose oneVself to perish in the most 
frightful torments. The path that we were following led 
us to a heap of stones, piled upon a small eminence; they 
were stained with blood, lately spill; my escort examined 
them with a mournful attention. The principal chief, a 
man possessed of much sense, said to me. in a solemn [50] 
tone, ^Tathcr, I think I ought to give you an explanation 

i«4i-i843) IV Smft's LfUfrs anJ Shtchei 179 

of what we are looking at. The Crows are not far oS: 
in tvro hours we shall see them. If I be not mistaken, 
we are upon one of their 6elds of battk; and here their 
nation mtist have met with some great loss. This monu- 
ment has been erected to the memory of the warriots. who 
fell beneath the blows of their enemies. Here the motber3> 
wires and dau^ters of than that died, have been weep- 
ing over their tombs. It is customary for the women to 
tear their faces, to make deep cuts in their legs and arms, 
and to water these tumulary piles with streams of blood. 
Had we arrived sooner, we ^ould have heaid their cries 
and funeral lamentations." He ift'aa not mistaken, as we 
immediately perceived a considerable troop of savages at 
a league's distance. They were the Crow-s, who were 
returning to their camp, after having paid the tribute of 
blood to forty of their warriors, who were massacred two 
years before by the tribe of the Black Feet. Being at 
present the allies of the Flal Heads, they received us with 
tnmsports of joy. There were groups of women with them, 
and so disfigured as to excite both pity and horror. This 
scene of grief is renewed every year, when they pass near 
the tombs of their relations.*' 

The chiefs of the Crows wished to c^ment^ by a great 
feast, their alliance with the tribe of our neophytes. As 
the language of the two nations is very different, the 
conversation was made by signs,** I shall endeavor to 
describe this dumb language, by mentioning to you how a 
bargain, at which I was present, was concluded. A young 
CrCfW, ol gigantic size, and cUd in his best garmentAr 
advanced into the midst of the assembly, leading his horse 

" On Ibe mournlag haldu of tht Wntem tndlam, VK ciur vohnnr cdfl. p^ j^v, 
no(e 331 — Ed- 

'^ Fnr rdovni^B on thf Indian ti^ Ungutgf mc otir volume xii^ p> m> 
ikOCc 56 (Cr«gK)i u\*a our volume jodv, pp. joo-jrt. — Ed, 



Early Wtsttrn Traveh 

[Vol. 37 

by the bridle, and placed him before th« Flat Head, u-ith 
whose borae he offered to make an exchange. The Flat 
Hrad took no notice of him, ftnd kept in an imniov»hle 
attitude. The [51] Crow then f^aced, successively, at the 
feet of the seller, his pin, his scarlet mantle, his ornaments, 
hb gaiters, and, lastly, his shoes. The Flat Head then look 
the faor^ by ihe bririle, picked up the clothes, &<:,, and Che 
sale was concluded without saying a word. The Crow, 
though so divested, joyfully mounted his new courser, and 
rode sevend times round the camp, touting in triumph, 
and putting his horse through all his paces. 

The principal wealth of the savages of the west con- 
asts in horses, of which each chief and warrior possesses 
a grrat nijnib(!r, that may br seen graj*ing about their camp. 
The horses of the Crows are principally of the Maroon race 
of the prairies." They have also many horses which they 
have stolen from the Scioux, the Sheyennes, and other 
Indians of the south-west, which they had in their turn 
stolen from the Spaniards of Mexico. The Crows are 
oonsidered the most indefatigable marauders of the desert; 
they traverse the mountains in all diteclioDs, bringing to 
one side what they have taken at the other. The name of 
Atsbaroke, or Crow, has been given to them on account of 

** In prthliloric dciH, tbe horw via iDrtigeomu ia Aineri^A- Evidttm tfacn^f 
ttnft «)IL«lfd by Pmlcwor O- C. Manh, and hu recently been comibDrcUcil by 
Ibi rpiulti f\l \\w Whitrvy Ktpioriftg ETpnliUon; arc H. F. Osbom, ""KmUilliin 
of 1^ UoFH Id AmpTJca," in Ctnlvfy Uagntinf, lux, pp. 3-17, Why ihii inimoi 
bciviic crtifti-t on the we*lcfn (cntiacni i« unknown^ but It serins certain thai 
Khf Spt^tiitih ^li■fftv^w« icmnd na tntcf chrrfol among thcAmfrlcwi InflmnSn and 
IhAt the borwa oi the plaint Indiana van dfrivtil from thou loai or nboncUtncd 
by or Molcp from the Spi-oi^ conciupivn dI Mctkc- Tti?K soua trvpitnJ Ui ■ 
wiLd itita ind became whiil Ike Smrt <»^% "the Maroon nice of the prniiieft" 
Ut>od the change* in the ceonotny ol UIc unong Aaenean aborigiau, broutl'^l 
■bauL b> ihciT posKSflicMi of ihr horir, ti>n«ull A. F. Bandcliti. " Investigaiiofti 
In the SouihwFBl/' in Archrcol^tgkil Institntt ol Americs Paf^i. American Sefws, 
iii, p. 311. — Ei>. 

i84t-t84al Df Smft's Liturs mJ Sketch: 


their robberies.*" They are practised from their infancy in 
this sort of larceny, and ihcy acquire a surprising dexterity 
in it; their glory augments with the number of their cap- 
tures, so that a finished robber is in their eyes a hero. I 
accompanied for two days, these savages, who, I think, 
were the finest Indians I liad met in all my travels. 
They passed the whole time in rejoicings and feasting. 
You will not be scanda]i2£d, I trust, when I tell you that 
I was present at twenty diSerenl banquets. 1 was scarcely 
seated in one cabin^ when I was called to partake of the 
festive entertainment in another. 

We arrived, at last, at the first fort belonging to the Fur 
Company. The Americans, who have here a trading post, 
received us most condially- At this place I was to part with 
[53] my faithful Flat Heads. I therefore told them, that, 
having before mc a country still more exposed to the incur- 
sions of the Black Feet, the Assiniboins, the Big Bellies, 
the Arikants, and Scioux, all of whom are declared enemies 
of their tribe, I would no longer peril their lives, on account 
of my personal safety; that as for my life, I placed it in the 
hands of God, and that I fell a persuasion it would be 
preserved, in order that, accompanied by new Missionaries, 
I might immediately return to them. I ejihorted them for 
the last time to remain faithful to the Great Spirit- We 
embracfxl each other, wishing, mutually, a happy return; 
and shortly after, accompanied by my faithful Fleming, 
I disappeared from their sight amidst the solitary defiles. 
We were to pass over several hundred miles of country, 
where no road is yet traced, and, like the navigator on the 
boimdiess ocean, with no other guide than the compass. 

**AbianTkA ( Cpaahniiku ) » Itu ruune by which (he Crowt know tbemvl^ci, 
ahboush according la Lcvb aiuI Cloik it dcaigiiAlcd bbt ooc b&i»l of the iHbc- 
lU lignificaiuie is uDcerlaian althcugh usually Tfaougbl ro br a «rtaiii qwciea of 
The nunc "Crov" — liter&U^ faveo, but tmiulated "CorbHUX*' by [h« 

£82 Early fVestem Trav^U (V<^»7 

For a long time we followed ihe course of the Yellow SfOnc» 
except when perpendicular rocks arrested our progress and 
oUi;^ us CO take a circuit. In many places we discovered 
forts which Ihe savages are in the habit of raising for 
defence, or for concealing themselves, when they arc at 
war, or waiting for their prey. Perhaps, al the moment of 
our passing, they were not without enemies. What a soli- 
tude, with its honors and dangers! but it possesses one real 
advanL-^ge: with death constantly before our eyes, we irre- 
sistibly feel, ^^lthout the possibility of illusion, that we are 
entirely in the hands of God, without any support but Him, 
without any other refuge than his paternal providence; il 
is then easy to make lo Him the sacrifice of a life which 
belungs less to us than to the first savage who wishes to 
take it, and to form the moat generous resolutions of which 
man is capable. It was really the best spiritual retreat that 
I made in my life, 

The second day of the journey, on awaking, I per- 
ceived, at the distance of a quarter of a mile, the smoke of 
a great [55] fi*^ — ^ point of a rock was all that separated 
us from a detachment of Indians. Without a moments 
delay we saddled our horses and set off, galloping with all 
speed along the ravines and beds of dried up torrents. We 
rode that day, without resting, more than fifteen leagues, 
and we did not encamp until two hours after sunset, lest 
the savages, having observed our track, should think of 
pursuing us- — The same fear prevented us from lighting 
a fire, which obliged us to dispense with supper. I 
wrapped myself in my blanket, stretched myself on the 
grass beside my companion, and having recommended 
myself to God, I endeavored to begiule hunger by sleep. 

French — b fta .\ogUd«^i (orrc ol iho name given to chii Uibc by the BarTOUudiag 
ladknih AdiJ mitj tvfcr (v llieir pilfering Ifnicndc^. Scv our voluoic v« p. 276. 

i84'*i84?] Lk Smri'j Lettert and SktUhis 


My grtBadicT, more courageous than I, sood snored like 
A steam cn^c in full play. 

Th€ next morning wc were on our way at day-break; 
advanced nith caution, for the country appeared full 
danger. Towards mid-day wc met a new subject of 
alarm — we found a buffalo, which had been killed about 
two hours previously. We thrilled at the sight, when we 
thought thiLt the enemy was not far off; and yet wc had 
reason lo thank the Lord for ha\ing prepsircd the food for 
our evening meal. The following night we encamped 
among rocks, which are the retreat of tigers and bears. I 
have already %id that the dens of ihe wild beasts inspire 
incomparably less ttrror lo the traveller than the hut of the 
savaf^e, I this time slept heavily and well. We always 
commenced our jouracy early in the morning, and each 
day had new dangers to face, and to meet occasionally the 
fresh tracer of men and horses- One day wc had to cross 
a field of icnis, which had been recently abandoned; the 
fires were not quite extinguished; but happily wc met no 
one. At len^h we saw again the Missouri at the very 
place, where, an hour before, a hundred families of the 
Assiriboins had passed over it. The foregoing ifi only 
a sketch of the [54] long and perilous journey which we 
made from the fori of the Crows to fort Union, situated 
at the mouth of the Yellow Stone river-" 

All the country watered by this river abotmds in game; 
I do not think that there is in all America another place 
better suited for hunting: we were condnually amidst vast 
herds of buffalos; we frequently discovered groups of 
majestic elks bounding over the plains, whilst clouds, if I 
may say so, of antelopes were fljing before us with the 
EwiftncGS of the wind. The Ashala, or Big Horn, alone 

* Pot ■ ikctch of (hk Ion 
iio(*349 — Ef^ 

Hatimilkn'i TratMii, ia oar Toluine uUr p. j;3i 


Early Wtsicm Traviis 


appean<d not tobedisturbed atour presence: we aw ihem 
in fn^oups, reposing on the edges of the precipices, or sport- 
ing on the points of the steep rocks. '\ht black-^Ucd 
roebuck, so richly dressed in its brown coat, frequently 
exatcd cur admiratioDf by its etegaot sbapCf and abrupt, 
animated movements, in which it appears scarcely to touch 
the earth with its feet-" I have already spoken of the 
gnzJy bears, which are here to be met with in abundance, 
as well as the wolves, panthers, badgers and wild cits. 
Often the traveller sees the prairie hen and the cock of the 
moontam start up from the midst of the hovth- The lakes 
and rivers are co\'ered with swans, geese and ducks: the 
indttstrious beaver, the otter, and the muskrat, together 
with the fishes, are in peaceable possession of their solitary 

The Arikaras and the Big Bellies, who had been d^s 
scribed to us as mo«i dangerous, received us as friends, 
whenever we met them on our way. Before setting out for 
war, they observe a strict fast, or rather they abstain from 
aU iooA for four days. During this interval their imagi- 
nation is ejccited to madness; and, either from the effect of 
weakness, or the warlike projects which fill their minds, 
they pretend that they have extraordinar}- visions. The 
elders and sa^s of the tribe are called upon to interpret 
these reveries; [55] and they pronounce them to be more 
or less favorable to the undertaking. Their explanations 
are received as oracles, according to which the expedition 
is scrupulously regulated. M'hilst the preparatory fast 
endures, the warriors make incisions in Aeir bodies, and 
buiy in the flesh, under the shoulder-blade, pieces of wood, 
to which they attach leather ihongs, by which they are sus- 
pended from a stake, fixed horizontally over the brink of 

** Fee ihtv TWO wdmali, Vtt l4tUT of vhkh b cominonl)' known u like bUck' 
liikd or Duk dnr^ Mc our voluu ^x. p^ ^i^, note 13; (Gnegg). — Ed> 

iS4i'tS4?] De Smefs LftUn and Sketches 

a chasm a hundred and fifty feel deep. They even some- 
rimes cut off one or two fingers, which they offer as a sacri- 
fice to Ihc Great Spirit, in order that they may rrtun^ loaded 
with scalps.*' 

In a recent expedition against the Scioux, the Arikaras 
killed twenty warriors of the hostile lribc» and piled up 
ihe corpses in the middle of their village. The solemn 
dance of victory then commenced, at which men^ women, 
the aged, and children assisted. After having celebrated, 
at lengthy the exploits of the brave> they rushed, like wild 
beasts, upon the mangled and hloody bodies of the Scioux, 
parcelled them amongst themselves, and fixed the hideous 
trophies to the end of long poles, virhich they carried in 
proud triumph around the villagCn 

It is impossible to form an idea of the cruelly that pre- 
ddes over the barbarous revenge of those tribes, who are 
constantly occupied in mutual destruction. As soon as the 
savages learn that the warriors of a rival nation have &et 
out for the chase, they unexpectedly attack the enemy's 
defenceless camp, and massacre the women^ old men, and 
chOdren in the cradle. Wo to the men who arc spared; 
their agony is deferred in order to render it more terrible. 
At other times they lie in wait in their enemy's path, and 
allow the detachment to pass on, until they have in their 
power such a portion of it as must infallibly become their 
[56] prey; whereupon they raise the death cry, and pour 
upon the enemy a shower of balls, arrows, and pieces of 
rock; this movement is the signal of extermination: the 
battle becomes a massacre; the sights of horror which 
would freeze the heart of any civilized man, serve only to 
inflame the fury of the savage: he outrages his prostrate 
riva], tramples on his mangled carcass, tears off his hair, 

"On iKcic oeranottic*, pm ffUf irolupoe oai, p. ji<, ooM 09a, »nd p- 37B, 
outt 350, — Ed. 


Earfy Western Travels 


wallows in bis blood with the delist of a tiger and often 
devours the qiiivering limbs of the falkn, while they ha^e 
scarcely ceased to exist. 

Such of the vanquished zs have not falkn in the combat 
arc reserved to adoni the triun^b, and are conducted pri-v 
oners to the vUlage of the conquerors. The women come 
to meet the returning warriors, amongst whom they seek 
with anxious looks their husbands and brothers: if tbey 
discover them not, they ciprcss their grief by tcrriSc howl- 
ing. One of the Kmriors suun commanclti stlence; he then 
gives the details of the fortunate espefitfon; describes the 
place selected for the ambuscade, the consternation of the 
waylaid tribe, the bravery of the assailants, and recounts 
the number of the dead and of the captives. To this 
recital, which is made with all the tntoxicacion of victory, 
succeeds the calling over the names of the warriors: their 
absence lells they are no more. The piercing cries of the 
women are then renewed; and their despair presents a 
scene of freruy and grief, which exceeds all ima^natton. 
The last ceremony is the proclaiming of victory. Every 
one instantly forgets his own misfortunes; the glory of the 
nation becomes the happiness of all; by an inconceivable 
tranaition, they pass in a moment from frantic ^ef to the 
most extravagant joyn 

r know not what terms to use in order to describe the 
torments which they inflict on the wretched prisoners: one 
(57! plucks off their nails, another tears away their flesh; 
red hot irons are applied to every part of their bodies; they 
are flayed alive, and their palpitating fle^ is devoured as 
food," The women, who, in other nations^ are more acces- 
sible to the feelings of pity than the men, here shew thcm- 
sdves more thirsty for revenge, and more ingenious in the 
barbarous refinement of cruelty. Whilst this horrible 

** On Ihv subject <?i caoaibalivn >cc our toIubw ulU, p. 178, mtc ttf^ Eo< 

i84i-"84a] Df Smft*j Leiiers and Skeiches 


drama goes on, the chiefs are gravely seated about the 
stake at which the victim is writhing. The latter appears 
to be only intent on conquering his anguiah: often has the 
prisoner been seen to brave his executioners, and with a 
stoic coolness exclaim, "I (ear not death; those who arc 
afraid of your torments are cowards; a woman of my 
tribe would despise them- Shame upon my enemies; they 
have not even the power (o force from me a (ear. In order 
to take me, they supplied their weakness by strategy; 
and now, to revenge themselves^ they have assembled an 
entire people against one man, and they are unable to 
triumph over him — the cowards! Oh, if they were in my 
place, how I would devour them, how I would sip from 
their accursed skulls the last drop of their blood!" 

The great village of the Arikaras is only ten miles dis- 
tant from that of the Mandans. I was surprised to see 
around their habitations large and well culdvated fields of 
majz* The latter Indians still manufacture earthen 
vases," similar to those which arc found in the ancirnt 
tombs of the savages of the United States, and which, 
according to antiquaries, are presumed to have belonged 
to a race much more ancient than that which now peoples 
the desert of the west. The jugglers of the Arikaras enjoy 
a good reputation, and exercise considerable influence over 
their credulous countrymen; they pretend to have com- 
munication with the spirit (58] of darkness.** Tbey will 
fearlessly plunge their arm into boiling water, having previ- 
ously rubbed it with a certain root; they also swallow, 
without any ill cScct, substances on fire, as well as shoot 
arrows against themselves. The following is one of the 
most singular of their tricks, and one which the Indian sor- 

" Coiuult tcFtKQcct died Ui OUl Tolxunc XJcUii p. »T4j iW MS-— Bd- 
Jnui. PP- yih J94-— Ep. 


Earfy IVfsUm Travels 

1\'qI, n 

ccTcr was unwilling to perform in my presence, because 
my mtdtdnr (irtraning my religion) was suftmirr to his. He 
had his hands, arms, le^s, and feet, ded with wcU-knorted 
cords; he was then enclosed in a net, and again in a buf- 
falo's akin. The person who tied him had protnised him 
a horse if he ejHricaled htm^lf from his bonds. In a 
minute after, the savage, to the amazement of the specta- 
tors, stood before him perfectly free. The commandant 
of the neighbouring fort offered him another horse, if he 
would rev'^al to htm his secret. The sorcerer consented, 
saying, "Have thyself tied; I have at my command ten 
invisible spirits: I will detach three of them and put them 
at thy serviice: fear them not, they will accompany thee 
everj-where, and be thy tutelary genii." The comman- 
dant was disconccTlcd. or unwilling to make the trial, and 
thus the matter terminated." 

Tbe last observation which I hav-e to make concerns the 
redoubtable tribe of the Sdoux. Whoercr, amongst these 
savages, dies in a quarrel provoked by dnmkcnncss. or as 
[59J the victim of the re^-mgc of a fellow nxmlryman^ 
receives not the ordinary honours of burial; be Is interred 
without ceremony and without proviskons- The most 
glorious death for tbem is to expire in fighting the enemies 
of their nation. Their bodies ate, in that case, roUed in 
buffaloes' skins and placed upon a raised pIatf<Min, near 
their camps or highways. *" From some conversatioos I 

a^ ^OMn, Mr. B*k^n. vte «^^^ a pHC 
«< vl^ «N^r« MD0M«id te «nMi^ te jKi^cbft. 0*»«ttto«iitf 

p. jeewMMjit.— Ck 

i84i*iS43) Di Smefs Letters and Skelchti 


have had with the chiefs of this tribe, I have every rca<9on 
to bc-Iirvc that a mission would produce amon|fst them the 
moGt consoling efleets* 

I arrived, at length, at Council Bluffs. It would be vain 
for mc to attempt to express what I felt, on finding myMlf 
again m the midst of my l>relhren: I had travelled two 
thousand Flemish leagues amongst the most barbarous 
nations, where I had no sooner escaped one danger than I 
met with another. Froni Council Dluflfs to Westport, a 
frontier city of the Missouri, I pursued my journey with- 
out obetacle or accident. At Independence,*' I took the 
public conveyance, and on the eve of the new year, [ em- 
braced my dear Fathers of the University of St. Loub. 

Recommending myself to your prayers, 
I am yours, &c 

P. ;. De Smet. 


Banks of the Platte, 2d June, 1841. 
Rev. and Very Dear Father Provincial: 

Behold us at last on our way towards the long wished 
for " Rocky Mountains/' already inured to the fatigues of 
the journey and full of the brightest hopes. It is now after- 
noon and we are sitting on the bank^ of a rivet, which, it is 
said, has not its equal in the world. The Indians call it 
Nebraska or Big Horn; the Canadians give it the name of 
la Platte, and Irving designates it as the most wonderful 
and useless of rivers. The sequel will show that it deserves 
these various affixes- It was to enjoy the freshness and 
beauty of its scenery that wc travelled more than twenty 

*" For * sketch of Indcpcadencr. Miitoun, we Gnia'« C0m#t«rD« d/ JA« Pr^irui 
in our vvlumc lii. p- 1B9, uute 34.^ £d. 


Early Wfstfm Travels 

[Vol. 37 


miles this morning, without breaking our fast^ throu^ a 
wilderness without a single nmlet to water oar j^«d 
borsc3, who must therefore rest where they are till to- 
mnrrow. I am far from regretting the delay as it will give 
mc an opportunity of commencing a letter whicti, I know, 
wiU interest you. 

Like all the works of God, our humble beginnings have 
not been unailended with trials: our joume)- had even well 
OJgh been indefinitely postponed by the unexpected noo- 
airiva] of two caravans on which wc had confidently relied; 
one of hunters, for tht: American Fur Company; the other 
an cjcploring expedition belonging to the United States, at 
the bead of which we expected to see the celebrated M* 
Nicolet-** Happtly God inspired two estimable travellers, 
I61J of whom more hereafter, and afterwards axty others, 
to take the same route as ourselves, some for health, others 
for sciencej or pleasure; but the greater number to seek 
their fortune in the too highly boasted land of California, 
This caravan formed an extraordinar>' mixture of diSerent 
natianSf every country of Europe having in it a representa- 
tive, my own little band of eleven persons hailing from 

* Dc Snbel lud been MUK^Ud with NinUH id bis esplDndoB of lli« Uia»>i»j 
Rivn id 1 3)0- NicuUet inlciirdctl anotbc opclilkia HcMvrtrd, bu; vr&* dntined 
in Wkifaiogton fay buainrss (ODiiecled with ihe pubticatiori oA his hydrogrmphiirfcl 
ooAFs and tht wpon 10 ConfireB, md wm nevrt agHtn in the W««u>n cctuntr^. 
Sec bii kncT in ChiticodcD xtid RiicKaidai>n, Dt Smtt, iv, pp. 1551, 'SSI' 

]^U3 Nh:Tj|a£ Niculln w&« burn in Savoy in 178^. After bHAg e1ucaM<l In 
Svit£, hr wag fof 1 tim« ftwittfltit pmiewor of mAthnntrka tx Chambery, 
ubd Ui«r ^ibrhrio-n ^nd ttcrvtarr %x the fMlfl obwrrntHv uadfj tW ccbbtatol 
Irf Plocc^ In i8j2 he c«n»t to AmerxA. uidDCcuinHl h^fojrll ia ideniific c^plnn- 
tlon of ihp ArkikTiiu ami Rrd rivpn. In iSjiS bf mju]« tus wel]-kfh>wT] vovur 
lii> ihc louicn C'l Ihe Mu*ii*ippi, uid ia ity^ explored the MiBooii. crcraaln( over 
io1lKRedR)T« Vk]W;r,bciii«vc<parjpuiial9]ilhisupcditnnby Joha C rr^mani. 
The roUcmriDft y^htx uatU bin iSatfa In 1A43. he W9« rmplo^n! in gw einn Kttt 
HTVin fti Wuhingtan. — Kd. 

* Tllb wu the tm Qvertand emigrsnt tn&n la CAlifMnU^ c>«Bpc«ed of rpim 
bm ol th« W«(«Tn Emigntioo Soeicly, or^aiiod in the winUt <tf t ■1^-41 la 

iS4E*i£4>) Of Srrttfj Lrttcrs and Sketchrs 


The difficulties of setting out once overcome, many olhers 
followed in succession. We had aeed of provisions, fire- 
£Lrms, implements of every kind, waggons, guides, a good 
hunter, an experienced captain, — in a word, whatever 
becomes necessary whtrn one has lo traverse a desert of 
eight hundred leagues, and expects nothing but formi- 
dable obstacles lo surmount, and thieving, and sometimes 
murderous, enemies to combat, — and swamps, ravines and 
rivers to tress, and mountains to climb, whose ciagg}^ and 
precipitous adcs suddenly arrest our progress, compelling us 
to drag our beasts of burden up their steep ascents. These 
things are not done without toil and money, but thanks 
to the generous charity of our friends in PbOadelphia, 
Cincinnati, Kentucky, St. Louis and New Orleans,'* 
which place I visited in person and which is always 
at the head of the others when there is a question of reliev- 
ing the necessities of the poor, or showing cotnpassion and 
munificence to any who may be in need of assistance, wc 
were enabled by the resources thence supplin), and by a 
portion of the funds allowed by the Lyons Association in 
behalf of the Indian Missions, to undertake this long jour- 

You have already Iciimed from my letters of (he jiast 
year, that I was specially sent among the Flat Heads to 
ascertain their dispositions towards the "Black Robes," 
whom they had so long desired. I therefore started from 
[6j] St. Louis in April, 1840, and arrived on the banks of 

Plartf Ccuncy^ Mhaouri, ixvArt the iIlmnluB uf npOTli nf ihr frTlilily jtnrt hruiiT^ 
of Cilik^rnia, brnu^i hv\ by one of the RouMdoiui bfQtlwn- DkBCdum^pd 
by conlrory u<c7ticU, most of tbc nieinbtr» of llur acdciy Mthdnew, leaving John 
BidvtU to or^ntiF the caravjn, which fifully uulatHl □( &1vTy-nSric prrvona, n- 
dusive of De SmeCi party- See BidweLl'A acoauat la Ct'v'H^^ licg^mn*, dx, 
pp, idA'170, Dc STDct'9 [>Eirty cfF etcvvo coasislcd of Ihc pilcili mad biolbrn, 
one fitirfr ofir hiiftlrf, and ihrw French CsojidJBD driver* — fcu. 

" Bpc De Smci'i Irttti qq accurirg fundi, aikI prepaimtlon^ In Qllnendtn Atid 
Kifburclua, Dt Smtt. k, pp. *79-i75.— Kd. 


Early Western Travels 

(Vol 17 

the Colorudo precisely at the moment when a bond of Flat 
Heads reached that point on their way to mce^ mc. It waj 
the n?ndexvou» I liad given thenr Reskles the Flat Heads 
I visited during that journey, many other tribes, such as 
the Pends d'oreilles (Ear Rings), Nez Perces (Pierced 
Noses), Cheyenncs. Serpents, Crow5> Gros ventres or 
Mtnalarees, Kicara.s Mandans, K&nza.% the numerous na* 
tions of the Scioux, &c- Finding every where such good 
dispositions, 1 resolved, notwithstanding the approach of 
winter and frequent attacks of fever, in order to second the 
visible designs of the divine mercy in favor of so many soiiU, 
to commence my joumey across the immense ocean of 
mountains and prairies. I have travelled without any 
other guide than a compass, without any proti^ction from 
nations hostile to the whites, but a veteran from Ghent, 
fomnerly a grenadier of the Empire, any other provisions 
in an and desert, than what powder and ball and a strong 
confidence in God might procure us, I shall not here 
repeat what I have already communicated to you, of ray 
adventures and the result of this mission. It will suffice to 
say, that the une^ipected quickness of my return (o St, 
LouiSf the excellent health I enjoyed, even though it was 
the midst of winter, and the consoling accounts I had to 
give of my reception by the Flat Heads, &c, &c,, all con- 
tributed lo make the most lively impression on the hearts 
of our brethren. Almost every one thought himself called 
to share the labors of a mission which offered so many 
attractions to their xeaL After due delibcnLtion» the fellow- 
laborers allotted me were five in number, namely two 
Fathers, Rev- Mr. Point " of La Vendee, as zealous and 

•* Father NJcolaa Puint *ria sajouHung ■! Wtfllport when DeSmet retumcd 
from hi* first nibsion ti> ibc rLAlhcad*- ^Ecttfil to jtccompflRr the new jnUuniif 
Fnihrf Pnint w-rvr*l m St Mnry'i tantii 1845, *htn Jtiter « mmmpr triih ih* It*- 
dib-TU on a buJTala h\a\X. Lu fotiadtd in the >utiuun of ih&t year the C<ctu d'AUne 
luiuhMi. TliU be uiulc ilu leat of hii work uolij his ihaII ip iB^fi- On bii 

iS4>-<^3] -Df Smft's Lrtffrs and Sketches 


courageous for the salvation of souls as his compatriot^ 
La Roche Jacqudin" was in the service of his lawful 
sovereign; Rev. Mr. Mengarini, recently from (63] Rome, 
specially selected by the Father General himself, for this 
mission, on account of his age, his virtues, his great facility 
for languages and his knowledge of medicine and music; " 
and Ihrec lay-brothcrs, two Belgians, Claessens and Huet, 
and one German, of whom the first is a blacJcsmtthr the 
second a carpenter, and the third a tinner, or a sort of lac- 
f<7fum;" all three industrious, devoted to the Missions and 


rftum journey lie Bpeni some niorih* amJHia ibr Bluf'kffrl, LnyinE thf fcmnditJoft 
for the vfirk that Utcr np^nrd into Si Pf^er*! oiJiDOfi, lie baptiHd over uk 
tiandmJ perKiu, chiefly chilfkea* and lurbti] to P^udi %A'/%si\A%t tis ulcat for 
dr&wlog. whereby he h^UkcIbI the indlfleTcnl trlbunen. He puwd llie ensuing 
irinUr at Fort Union, when he ts/arittd x aaluUiy rr^crtint over the UvleM 
mderg AoJ haU-brccda. Sec lEataric&T Society o( MonUofe ConttSf^mt, ill- 
p{>. i4,^%A^' The next fpring he ^ts sfni ta Upper CanadA, And difjl %X Quebec 
in t6«(,— EC, 

*■ Hrnri fie VprgeT, t^mint de La Racbeja^qnelan (i77*-4)4). waa omi of the 
moiil popular jctofmli of the Vvnd^A peosiiACs* duriiiK Lhdt rcvoU B|pln«t the 
rtpubtif ol ihe Frentih KtvclijUgDi He bad been a oiciQbcr of the ilQg*i guard, 
tn( afT«r the liunaLu Tenih of Auguai rttreatAl Vn hu aw^fSttral home, and there 
pul KimKlf at Uk head ef the upri«ing, and althouith but tAcntT-onc yt^xw of 
aire voA thoH-n graeiaUio<hlef (1793)' EUa courage and mlllury darinH made 
him the iavctfitfrbemof The roynllati. He wai killrd by ■ repubbcaa «o1dler-— EO- 

" FoTher GTPffnry Mengarini remained in charge of the Flaihend miMlon at 
5L MdPf'a until 1^50^ He w^s kq j)C<iunpEiihid ttaguist, and ao mBotered iho 
Todiiin diAlctl (liat by mcam of Ufr Bpccth He cuuld [lou for a Flathead. Iffl 
prjntrd a ^alifihan ^mmar (iMi). and prepared 1 Salishan-EngliBh dtcHomry, 
In 1850 il w« decidtti to tttundisQ St. Uory't for a time, wtiereupoo Fulhtr Men- 
garini retired to th? Dcwly-ettabliithed Jesuit college at Santa Clara. Calilbmia, 
where h« died in tARO. For hla portrait we PaUadina. Indinm atid (i'JbiM in tk^ 
Ntrthwtit, p. ji'— Ed. 

'^WiLliam ChieKeni lived 11 the Flilhead miision until near the rUxw of hit 
life- Ordered to Saaia Clara, Califorola, to tcsC, he dScd there (Oftobei ri. iSqi), 
jii3t after celebrating the fiftieth annlvcivrj of hisenlTaQ££ upan miujoqary irork- 
For hi* portrait ace ihid.. p, 6jr 

JoKph Specht never permuientlj Itft the Flalheid miiuout dfiog ac St^ Ig&a- 
tiiu ID i3S4, tine of the oide>it white iiLltahit^ctta of Montana. For hia portrait 
M* itfi . p Oo- 

Cbarle» Uuec joui«d Father Pmnt tti cstabliahiag the Copui d*AUnc mlation- 
See an**, note 67. — Ed. 




Eariy IVesttm Travels 

[Vol. >7 

full of good will, T^ey had long arrlentlj desired to tie 
employed on these misa'cns and I thank God that had the 
choice been left to myself, I could have made none lictlcr. 
Thus launched into the midst of this inttrminablc Far 
West, how often did I repeat these beautiful liors of Racine: 

In seven days from my departure from St- Louis, name- 
ly, on the 3otli of April, I arrived at Wesiport, a frontier 
XfTKii on the West of the United Slates, It took us seven 
days, on board a steamboat/^ to perform this journey of 
900 miles, no unfair average of the time required to travel 
such ft distance on the Missouri, at the breaking up of ifae 
winter, when, though the ice is melted, the water is still 
so low, the sand banks so close together and the snags so 
numerous that boats cannot make greater headway^ - . . 
We landed on the right bank of the river, and took refuge 
in an abandoned little cabin, vrherc a poor Indian woman 
had died a few days before, and in this retreat, so like to 
that which once merited the preference of the Saviour and 
for which was thenceforth to be substituted only the shelter 
of a tent in the wilderness, we took up our abode until the 
lolh \fay — occupied as well we might be In supplying (he 
wants created by the burning of our baggage waggon on 
board the steamboat, the sickness of one of our horses 
[64] which we were compelled to leave after us, and the loss 
of another that escaped from us at the moment of landing. 

We started, then, from Wesiport, on the 10th of May, 
and after having passed by the lands of the Shawnees and 
Delawares, where we saw nothing remarkable but the col- 
lege of the Methodists," built, it is easy to divine for what, 

^ Dc Smct went up lo Wvitport by Ulc "Occubft,** ■ ttcamboftt of mbout 500 
Igiu, built in i&j6.— Ku- 

** A miMion tdwol wiu uLtbliahHl juDciDg the Shuwnee in iBsg bj R#v«rfini5 

1041-16431 Ik Snufj LetUrs and SiHehts 


where the s(m1 id richest; wo arrived after five day's march 

00 Ihc banks of the Kavxtas river, where we found (hose of 
our companions, who had travelled by water, with a part 
of our baggage." Two of the relatives of the grand chief 
had come twenty miles from that place to meet us, one 
of whom helped our horses lo pass the river in safety^ 
by swimming before them, and the other announced our 
arrival to the principal men of the tribe who wailed for 
us on the opposite bank. Our baggage^ waggons and men 
crossed in a pin>gue^ which, at u itisrance, looked like one 
of those gondolas that glide through the streets of Venice. 
As soon as the Kanzos understood that we were going to 
encamp on the banks of the Soldier's River," which is only 
six miles (vom the village, they galloped mpidly away from 
our Caravan^ disappearing in a cloud of dust, so that we 
had scaKely pitched our tents when the great Chief pre- 
sented himself with six of his bravest warriors, to hid us 
welcome. After having made me sit df>wn on a mat spread 
on the ground, he, with much solemnity, took from his 
pocket a Portfolio contaiaing the honorable tititt that gave 
him a right to our friendship and placed ihem in my hard^. 

1 read them, and having, with the tact of a man accustomed 
to the etiquette of savage life, furnished him the means of 
smoking the Calumet, he made us accept for our guard the 
two braves who had come to meet us. Both were armed 
Uke warriors, one carrying a lance and a buckler, and the 

ThAmu Jahntan q\ iht Minourl mnffrvnn* i-rf rhr Mrlhrvlivt rhunh. %rA wu 
Dcmd'aclf^ bf ilul cniadJoiufy %tkA hit idf«, 4di1 R^vrvrnd Ltid Hn, WiliUfn Johr- 
>ua- In i^yi ttic ttbixil »u rciiioircd lu a, ImuUuq aSjui two mild mxiiliTrai <>t 
Wni|vrt, when ■ ETitPt of Ijcrti) wu trfured, uui %a iiufuarint ■fthool miltiiAiriH 
lor Indifto children uatil iS4>'— Eol 

• ¥etr (he ««riy itrrTCh o* lb* Orrgm Trail m« W)vth'« Oh^m, in ouf voliurm 
xil, p. ^t txM yi. Tbe CAUIonifA ccnieruics wrn met kl Sa|>liii|t Gtov«, 

Pot It* lCv« IndUfi^ vr <jur »oluinr w, p. (i^. noce j;. — Ed. 

>*SoUicr'> CiTclt. * ntmhon titbuUrv u( llie lUru^ eaUdofi Che Unc« f«M 


Early Wfttem Travfh 

[Vol. 37 

other a bow and arrowSf with a naked sword and a collar 
[65] madeof iht claws 0/ four bears which he had killed 
with his own hand. These two braves remained faithful 
at their post during the three days jind three nights that 
we httd to wait the coming op of the stragglers of the 
caiavan. A small present which we made them at our 
departure secured us their friendship. 

On the 19th wc continued our journey to the number of 
seventy souIe^ fifty of whom weir capable of managing the 
rifle — a force more than sufficient to undertake with pru- 
dence the long march we had to make. Whilst the test of 
our company inclined to the West, Father Point, a young 
Englishman and myself turned to the left, to visit the near- 
est village of our hosts/* At the first sight of their wig- 
wams, we were stnick at the resemblance they bore to the 
large slacks of wheat which cover our fields in harvest- 
lime. There were of these in all no more than about 
twenty, grouped together without order, but each covering a 
space of about one hundred and twenty feet in circum^ 
ference, and sufScieni to shelter from thirty to forty persons* 
The entire village appeared to us to con^st of from seven 
to eight hundred souls — an approximation which is justi- 
fied by the fact that the total population of the tribe is 
conSned to two villages, together numbering 1900 inhabi- 
tants. These cabins, however humble they may appear, 
are solidly built and convenient. From the top of the wall, 
which is about six feet in height, rise inclined poles, which 
terminate round an opening above, serving at once for 

'* TIht F^nB^Uhinui'i nvi^r wu Ram&irv- Hr h^d R«n« up from N«« Orlvaiv 
on a buniiDjt trip, Pfid ac(Din[ivu«d the <ant«a *a Fir m Gr«c River. Dc Srad 
itulfic* (c hU tngaff^cs qunlltioi bh «kIU u ■ tiuaLcr. Kod fab nwnay In camp. 

Ttvt Kiikiii v11U|^ hen vlfliDd wu dht ihr mouth of VrnnULkn Cnvfe. In 
PcCCftWLiamic C-Mjuty (not lo bv «nfv>ed vith Ibe BUck VmuUloti, triWtHT 
uf the Bic BIikV Whcu Frfnunl puavtl ihb v\j ia i5«J, tine iriOicr »u drwtted* 
having tlw printing tpring iul!i>t*d « ?■««» iCtMk. — Ed. 

i84i-fS4a] Df Smft'j L^iUrs and Sketchii 


chimney and window. The door of the edifice consiiits of 
an undressed hide on the most sheltered side, the hearth 
occupies the centre and is in the midst of four upright pasts 
destined 10 support the rotunda\ the beds arc ranged round 
the wall and the space between the beds and the hearth is 
occupied by the members [66] of the family, some :alanding, 
others silting or lying on skins, or yellow colored mat& It 
would seem that this last named article is regarded as a 
piece of extra finery, for the lodge assigned to us had one 
of (hem-'* 

It would be diflicult to describe alt the cunosuties we 
beheld during the hour we passed among these imly 
strange beings; a Tenicrs would have envied us. What 
most excited our attention was the peculiar physiognomy 
of the greater number of these personages, their vivacity of 
expression, singular costume, diversity of amusement and 
fantastic attitudes and gestures. The women alone were 
occupied^ and in order to attend to their various duties with 
less distraction, they had placed those of their papooses 
who were unable to walk, on beds or on the floor, or at their 
feet, each tightly swathed and fastened lo a Ixiard, to pre- 
serve it from being injured by surrounding objects. Thi^ 
machine, which I shall not call either cradle or chair, is 
carried, when they travel, cither on the back, after the 
feshjon of the gypsies and fortunetellers in Europe, or at 
their side, or more frequently, suspended from the pummel 
of the saddle, while they lead or drive their ponies, 
laden with the rest of their goods and chattels. With such 
encumbrances they manage to keep pace with their hus- 
bands, who generally keep their horses at a gallop. But 
let us return to our wigwam, How were the men occu- 
pied? WTien we entered, some were preparing to cat, 

" For an euU«( vivt to * Kaiu* vUUkc kc oui voliuoe ^fy pp, iA4<too- Sot 
abo UlDitTKtbn of ihr ioislar of a S«ntti Ind^, ibid., p. soft^ Ed. 


Earfy fF€sUm Travels 


(this is their grcal occupation when they are not asleep) 
others were smuking, discharging the fumes of the lobacco 
by their mouths and nostrils, reminding one of the funnels 
of a steamboat; they talked. the>' plucked out their beard 
and the hair of their cyc-brows, they made their toilette; 
the head receiving particular Attention. Contrary to the 
custom of the other tribes, who let the hair on their heads 
grow, (one of [67] the Crows has hair eleven feet long) the 
Kanzas shave theirs, with the exception of a well curled tuft 
on the crown^ destined to be wa-athed with the warrior's 
plume of eagle's feathers, the proudest ornament with 
which the human head can be adorned." While wc were 
smnking I could not help watching the motions of a young 
savage, a sort of dandy, who ceased not to arrange, over 
and over again, his bunch of feathers before a looking 
glass, apparently unable to give it the graceful finish he 
intended- — Father Point, having suffered his beard to 
grow, soon became an object of curiosity and laughter, to 
the cluldren — a beardless chin and well pickcdjbrows and 
^e-lashes being, among them, indispensable to beauty. 
Next come the Plume and SUt-cani, with their pendants of 
beads and other trinkets. This is but a part of their fineiyi 
and the pains thus taken to reach the beau-ideal of personal 
decorutions, are but a faint specimen of their vanity. Do 
yoti wish to have an idea of a Kanza satisfied with himself 
in the highest degree? Picture him to yourself with rings 
of Vermillion encircling his eyes, with white, black, or red 
streaks ruoniog down his face, a fantastic necklace, adorned 
in the center with a large medal of silver or copper, 
dangling on his breast; bracelets of tin, copper, or brass, 
on his arms and wrists; a cincture of white around 
his waist, a cutlass and scabbard, embroidered shoes or 
mocasins on his feet; and, to crown all, a mantle, it mat- 

■*S«e mora JeuUlf^ d«cTlpilon In out volume iJii, pp. tD6s 1^7' — Hd, 

i*t4i-i84al Df Smei's Leuerj anil Sketch^ 


ters not for the color, thrown over the shoulders and fall- 
mg around the body in such folds or drapery as the wants 
or caprice of the wearer may direct, and ihc individual 
stands before you as he exhibit^ himseU to us. 

As for dress, manners, religion, modes of making war. 
&c., the Kanzas arc like the savages o( their neighbor- 
hocx]^ with whom they have preserved peiiccful and friendly 
relations [6$] from time immemorial. In stature, they are 
generally tall and well made. Their physiognomy is manly, 
their language is guttural, and remarkable for the length 
and strong accentation of the final syllables. Their style 
of singing is monotonous, whence it may be inferred that 
the enchanting music heard on the rivers of Paraguay, 
never cheers the voyager on the otherwise beautiful streams 
of the country of the Kanzas. 

With regard to the qualities which distinguish man 
from the brute, they are for from being deficient* To 
bodily strength and courage Ihey unite a shrewdness and 
address superior to other savages, and in iheir wars or the 
chase, they make a dexterous use of fire armst which gives 
Ihem a decided advantage over their enemies. 

Among the chiefs of this tribe are found men really dis* 
tinguished in many respects. The most celebrated wag 
"White Plume," whom the author of the Conquest of 
Grenada represents as a man of great powers of mind and 
chivalrous character." He was endowed! with uncom- 
mon intelligence, frankness, generosity and courage, tie 
hod been particularly acquainted with Rev. Mr. Dc la 
Croix, one of Ihc hrst Catholic Missionaries that visited 
that part of the West, and conceived for him and his col* 
leagues, the "Black Robes'' profound esteem.'" His feel- 

*" Ffir llili nottd chjtf kc out valumc xlv. p, 177, note 144' WtistilaifUin 
Irving'* wmi-bumorous dcsTiptioTi of Mm occun ia Thr Roiky Mautilaimt (Ctp^ 
tiia Jhmne^illc'a Jounwll, fh*plcr iL — Ed. 

'*Cliar1rt tlr ia Croix, Turn 41 Huopcbffke. Belgium, i^U wia impmwd 


Early Wrstrm Travels 

[Vol l^ 

irgs towards (he ProteslanI Missionaries were far dffferenl- 
He had neither esteem nor veneration for th^m or Iheir 
refomution. When on a certain occasion one of them 
spoke to him of conversion; "conversion," said the unso- 
phjstrcal^ savage, 'i_s a good thing when the change is made 
for something good. For my part, I know cone such but 
what is taught and pmcused by the Black Robes. If then 
you desire me to change, you must first quit yGKxr wife and 
then put on the habit I shall show you, and then we sliall 
[65] see further/' This habic was a priest's cassock, which 
a missionary had left him with the memory of his virtues^— 
Wc presume we need not add that these hard conditions 
were not complied with by the preacher. 

It is not to be inferred from the apparent pleasantry of 
this remark that the chief spoke lightly of Religion; on 
the contrary, the K^mzas. like all the Indian tribes, never 
spv^k on the subject without becoming solemnity. The 
more they are observed the more evident does it become 
that the religious sentiment is deeply implanted in their 
souls, and is, of all others, that which is most frcquenty 
expressed by their words and actions. Thus, for instance, 
they never take the caltimet, without first rendering some 
homage to the Great Spirit, In the midst of their most 
infuriate |ia^ons they address him certain prayers, and 
even in assasstn^tting a defenceless child^ or a woman, they 
invoke the Master of life. To be enabled to take many 
a scalp from their enemies, or to rob them of many 

Into the Inperiil guAtda; bul ut^plng with diScvltr ham Pfciu in iSu- vu 
ordiiibcd for the Aincrican fniaaicn. He nrivcd in the UbiLacI States in iSi7« 
Jit firel Wng marie pasor aX Banvni^ Minniiri- In 1870 hp berime n»r# at 
FloriAkiM. vtiFdce hp mode tvo vinls (i8li-9a) to the Unitory of the Oia^, 
but WA9 conipcUol by ill^icn to rctum. tJpoa ihe cmriing of (he Jesuits to Flarii- 
Mnt (>£3j) he rrsiifiiKl hla clui^ I0 ilirm, beoHnLng paii/ir of Si- MichftcVa 
paiuh* liOuiAJunA. where he rrmtinrd until failmp hnlth made nrcneuy A^a 
retvfii lf> Europe (1834)- H« hi>«4 u cuKta oJ the t^UiCclEiil «t Gbeot uulii hi« 




r— ^ . 


^B ^^^^mT'^H^^^^^^ 


^Mk- ^'^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ 


^^Ky Ji!^u n^^^^^^^^^^L 


^^^^^^t. jT^^^^^^'^^H l^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^k 


^^^^B^^'^^-^ / H^K "^H^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^k 










^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^- ^^^^^^^^^^^B 



^^^^^^^^^^^v^B^ ^^^^^^^^^H 



^^^BV&^t^ '^~''' ^V^^l 




^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^k _ '^ ~^Bv '^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^H 









^^^^^H^^Bb^^^^^^l^^Vt ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^v 







« ' 



- • * 




ifi4»-i343] IV Sme/'s LefUrj and Skftcfu4 


horses, becomes lh« object of their most fervid prayers, to 
which they sometimes add fasts, macerations and sacrifices. 
What did they ntit do last spring, to tender the heavens 
propitious? And for what? To obtain the power, in the 
absence of their warriors, to massacre all the women and 
children of the Pawnees! And in effect they carried o3 the 
scalps 0/ ninety victims, and made prisoners 0/ all whom 
they did not think proper to kill. In their eyes, revenge, 
far from being a horrible vice, is the first of virtues, the dis- 
tinctive mark of great souls, and a complete vindication of 
the most atrocious cruelty. It would be time lost to attempt 
to persuade them that there can be neither merit, nor glory, 
in the murder of a disarmed and helpless foe. There is 
hut one exception to this barbarous code, \i is when an 
enemy voluntarily seeks a refuge in one of their villages. 
As long as [70] he remains in it, hisasylum is inviolable — his 
life is more safe than it would be in his own wigwam. But 
wo to him if he attempt to fly — scarcely has he taken a sin- 
gle step, before he restores to his hosts all the imaginary 
rights which the spirit of vengeance had given them to his 
lifcl However cruel they may be to their foes, the Kanzas 
are no strangers to the tenderest sentiments of piety, friend- 
ship and compassion. They are often inconsolable for the 
death of their relations, and leave nothing undone to give 
pnxjf of thdr sorrow. Then onJy do they suifer their hair 
to grow — long hair being a sign of long mourning. The 
principal chief apologised for the length of his hair, inform- 
ing us, of what we could have divined from the sadness of 
his countenance, that he had lost his son. I wish I could 
represent to you the respect, astonishment and compassion, 
expressed on the countenances of three others, when they 
visited our httlc Chapel for the first time." When wc 

""DcSmrl pro^bly fntfndi the cli*p«l «t Wesiport, vb«rc Kitbu PoidI «>■« 
■uiword bcbft his (Jtponure Tvi Oic FtniJieBd couatiy. — £d. 


Early tfetffm Travels 

p^ol. aj 

showed ihtm an " Ecce Homo" and a statue of our I^dy of 
the seven Dolours, and the interpreter explained to them 
that Ihat head crowned with Ihoras, and that countenance 
defUed with insults, were the true and real image of a God 
who had dird for the tuve of us. and that the heart they 'saw 
pierced with seven swords, wns ihe heart of his mother, we 
beheld an atlecting illustration of the beautiful thought of 
TerttiUian, that the soul of man is naturally ChHstian! 
On such occasions, it is surely not HiiGcult^ after a short 
instruction on true faith and the love of God, to excite feel- 
ings of pity for their fellow creatures in the most ferocious 
bosoms. What were the Irocjuois before their conversions, 
and what have they not since become? Why do the Kan- 
zas and so many other tribes on the confines of ci^'ilization, 
still retain that savage ferocity of manners? Why have 
^the great sums expended in their behalf by Prutestant phi- 
lanthropy [71] produced no satisfactory results? Why are 
the germs of civilization so thickly scattered among these 
tribes, as it were, stricken with sterility? Ah! it is doubt- 
less, because something more than human policy and zeal 
of Protestantism is necessary to civilize the savages and 
make them Christians. May the God of Mercies, in 
whom we alone place all our trust, bless our undertaking 
and enable us to predict that our swtat, mixed with the 
fertilizing dew of heaven, will fall auspiciously on this loz^ 
barren earth, and make it produce something else besides 
briars and thomsf When we took leave of our hospitable 
hosts, two of their warriors, to one of whom [hey gave the 
title of Captain, escorted us a short distance on the road, 
which lay through a vast field which had been cleared and 
planted for them by the United States, but which had been 
ravaged before the harvest home — sad proof of what we 
have stated above. 

Our escort continued with us tmtil the day following, and 

i841-eS4>] ^ Smefs Letters and Sketches 


wouW have remained with us sUU longer, did they not fear 
the terrihte reprisals of the Pawnees, for the massacre 
committed scmr months previously. Having (herefore 
received our thanks and a portion of tobacco, they resumed 
the road to their village, just in time to escape the ven- 
geance of a party of Pawnees, whom we met two days laler, 
in (|uest of the Kanzas! 

The Pawnees are divided into four tribes, scattered over 
the fertile borders of the Platte River." Though six timed 
more numerous than the Kansas, they have almost on 
every occasion been conquered by the latter, because they 
arc far inferior to them in the use of arms, and in strength 
and courage. Yet as the party just mentioned seemed to 
have adopted decisive measurrs, and as their thirst of 
revenge had been stimulated to the highest dep;ree by (he 
still fresh recollection of whal their mothers, their wives 
and children [72] had 5uSercd> wc had reason to fear for 
the Ranzas. Alrtrady we fancied that we saw the blood 
streaming on all sides, when, two days after we had passed 
them, we saw them return to meet us. The two tirst who 
approached us, excited our attention, the one by a human 
scalp, which hung suspended from the neck of his horse, 
the other by an American flap, which he had wrapped 
around his body» in the form of a cloak. This kind of 
attire made us tremble for the fate of our hosts; but the 
captain of the caravan having asked them by signs con- 
cerning the result of their expedition, they informed us that 
they bad not even seen the enemy, and that they suffered 
much from the cravings of hunger. Wc gave to them, and 
to about fifteen others who followed them, both victuals 
and tobacco. They devoured the victuals, but did not 

" For ihc PjLwnM banda it« our vDliime iLv, p. ?jj, luHe Tf()^ Their deprv- 
flfttiont wfr< cunrly A3 mx^h drudcd by tbr timdcra on ihc Kulhcm rouLei« 14 
itaoie ol Ibc DLacklK[ nrrr in nonhnu cluriA.— Elf. 


Early Wetttm Travels 


smoke; and, coDtiaiy to the custom of the Indians, who 
generally expect to get a second meal after Ihc first, (htjr 
lt*ft us in a manner whicb indicated that they were dis- 
satisfied. The suddenness of their departure, their refusal 
to smoke the calumet, the unaxpectcd return of their party, 
the neighhorliood of their villages, and their well known 
love of plunder — in short, every thing induced us to fear 
that they had some design 10 make an attempt, if not upon 
our persons, at least upon the baggage; but, God be praised, 
not one reappeared after the departure of the party. 

Though addicted to the practice of lying and stealing, 
yet, what must appear wonderful, the Pawnees arc in some 
respects true believers^ with regard to the certainty of a 
future life, and display a pharisatcal punctuality in the 
obser\-ance of their superstitious rites. Dancing and 
music, as well as fasting, prayer and sacrifice, form an 
essential part of their worship. The most common wor- 
ship among them is that which they offer to a stutTed bird, 
filled with [7,3] herbs and roots, to which they attribute a 
supcmaluraJ virtue." They protest that this Manitoo 
had been sent to their ancestors by the Morning Star, to 
be thcdr mediator when they should stand in need of some 
particular favor.— Ffence, whenever they enter upon some 
important undertaking, or wish to avert some great evil^ 
they expose (he Mediatorbird to public veneration^ and 
in order to render both him and the Great Manitoo (or 
Spirit) by whom he is sent, propitious to them, they smoke 
the calumet, and blow the first smoke that issues from it 
towards the part of the sky where shines their protectress. 

On the most solemn occasions the Pasvnees add a bloody 

* De Sj3ut rdcn here \^ the taedjcidf biiodk^ One of [h«c belong lo cacTi 
funily ol impofUnc*, •m1 a %\\\\ more sacred om in each band of the tribe, lu 
conicnta vcrc various, fnqucttllr containing «1una of wcrd btnla, ftltbaufljk not 
euludvdj 10 axapoKd. S« John B DuqImTh '*Ptwaw todiuo," In Mag*-^ 
9in4 qJ Amrriean HiiUrj, viii, pp 73S-741 — Ed 

1841-1843] De Smel's Letters and Sketches 


sacrifice to the oblation of the calumet; and according to 
what Ihcy pretend lo have Icamcxj from the bird and the 
Star, {\ic sacrifice most afi^rteablr to the Great Spirit is 
that of an enemy immolated in the most cruel manner. 
It is impossible to listen without horror to the recital of 
the circumstances that attended the sacrifice of a young 
female, of the Sctoux tribe, in the courw of ihe year liyj- 
It was about seed time, and they thus sought to obtain a 
plentiful han'est. 1 shall here give the substance of the 
dct&ilod account, which I have given of it in a former 
Letter. This young giri, was on!y a^cd fifteen; after having 
been well treated and fed for six months, under pretence 
that a feast would be prepared for her at the opening of 
the summer reason, felt rejoiced when she saw the last 
days of winter roll by. The day fixed upon for the feast 
having dannad, she passed through all the preparatory 
ceremonies, and was then arrayed in her finest attire, after 
which she was placed in a circle of warriors, who seemed 
to escort her for the purpose of showing her deference. 
Besides their wonted arms, each one of these warriors 
had two pieces of wood, which he had received at the hands 
of the maiden, Tht- [74] latter had on the preceding day 
carried three posts, which she had helped to fell in the 
neighboring forest: but supposing that she was walking 
to a triumph, and her mind being filled with the most 
pleasing ideas, ihe victim advanced towards the place of her 
sacrifice with those mingled feelings of joy and timidit>'. 
which, under similar circumstances, are naturally excited 
in the boAom of a girl of her age. 

During their march, which was rather long, the silence 
was interrupted only by religious songs and invocations 
to the Master of life, so that whatever affected the senses^ 
tended to keep up the deceitful delusion undrr which she 
had been till that moment. But as soon as she had reached 


Early $VfsUm Trtnr/j 

[Vol. 17 

the place of ^critice, where nothing was seen but tires^ 
torches, and inslnimcnts of torture, the deluwon began to 
vanish and her eyes were opened to the fate that awaited 
hcfn How great must have been the surprise, and soon 
after the terror which she feh, when she found it no longer 
posu'ble to doubt of their imentions? Who could describe 
her poignant anguish? She btirst into tears; she raised 
loud cries to heaven — she begged, entreated, conjured her 
ejtecotioners to have pity on her youth, her innocence, her 
parents, but all in vain: neither tear^ nor cries, nor the 
promises of a trader who happened to be present, softened 
the hearts of these monsters. She was tied with ropes to 
the (ninJi and branches of (wo trees, and the most sensitive 
parts of her body were burnt with torches made of the wood 
which she had with her own hands distributed to the war- 
riors. — When her sufferings lasted long enough to weary 
the fanatical fury of her ferocious tormentors, the great 
chief shot an arrow into her heart; and in an instant this 
arrow was followed by a thousand others, which, after hav- 
ing been violently turned and twisted in the wounds, were 
lorn from them in such a manner that her *hole body pre- 
sented but [75] one shapele^ mass of mangled fleshy from 
which the blood streamed on all sdesu When the blood 
had ceased to flow, the greater sacrificator approached the 
expiring victim, and to crown so many alrocious acts, lore 
out her heart with his own hands, and after uttering the 
most frightful imprecations against the 5cioux nation, 
devoured the bleeding Qesh, amid the acclamations of his 
whole tribe. The mangled remains were then left to be 
preyed upon by wild beasts, and when the blood had been 
sprinkled on the seed, to render it fertile, all retired to 
their cabins^ cheered with the hope of obtaining a copious 

■Tblft cuMom of humfLD turUict appcan u tuive been foabat^ to tbt SkiM 

1841-184^1 Df Smct's Letlfrs and Sketches 111 

Such horrid cruelties could not but draw down the wrath 
of heaven upon their nation. And in fact, as soon as Ihc 
repon of the sacrifice reached the Scioux^ ihey bumed 
with the desire to avenge their honor, and swore to a mao 
that they would not rest satisfied till ihcy .should have 
lulled as many Pawnees as ihc young victim had bones In 
her fingers and joints in her body. More than a hundred 
Pawnees have at length fallen beneath their tomahawks^ 
and their fury was afterwards more increased by the ma^ssa- 
cre of their wives and children, of which I have spoken 

At the sight of so much cruelty, who could mistake the 
agency of the enemy of mankind, and who would refuse 
to exert himself for the purpose of brinj^ng these benighted 
narions to the knowledge of the true Mediator, and of the 
only true sacrifice, without which, it is impossible to appease 
the divine justicc. 

Rcv, and dear Father, yours, 

P. J. D£ Smet, S.J. 

W Loop buid of P*wnc«> uul 10 b«vc bun &boLf^uMt oaly wjtb much <4iflirull^. 
JTuntflft tj>HfM Hsfi^Oian, In ciur voJunw iv, pp, lu-ij^, rrlAi'* the nwe ol 
ABi lUei) cipti^-t in t^xj, and thu appiinnt ibaliUwi of the cuitoni- John T. 
If^KJb J'? Tndinn Slttic^i (rhiUdclphu. iBj!f)> li, ri>. i4^>5Ji fkvnbii na 
Indloritul innnpi In 1K31 to rrw « npUvc dolKaed farihlabif. Tbr ucouat 
^v«n br l>« ^Toct of the MUTiftce ol 1857 ippevf to ht tuthntir- Dvnb*r {cf. 
tilw in pra«lin)[ uolc) wys (h«I the ImI Litown in«tanc< occhttrI in ApHi, rSjB; 
but imitwWy h b3» Ircn rrpraircl dcirr S*t *l*n Gforgr P. Grinnfll, F*rumit 
Htro Srofut atd Folk Toirr (Ncv York, t^^). p^- S&JJ^; ar\i\ Gvn^ A. 
Dorvy, ''Trblitium i4 the HUili Fawjihx.*' iu Aiucil(«n Fulk Iaoc Sudciy P«^- 
iboibnu (BtvtAn. 1904). vtd,*— ED- 


Early Wtstem Travels 



Eau Sucree,** 14th July, 1841. 
Very Rc\". and Dear Father Provincial: 

Already two long months have elapsed since we began 
our joumey; but we are at length in sight of those dear 
moaotains that have so long been the object of our desires." 
The/ arc called Kocky^ because they are almost entirely 
formed of granite and ^ilex, or flint stone. The length, 
position, and elevation of this truly wonderful chain of 
mountains, have induced geogmphei? to give to it the 
appellation of ''the backbone of the western hemi- 
sphere-" Traversing almost the whole of North America, 
from north to soutfa^contalning the sources of some of the 
largest streams of the world, this chain has for its branches, 
towards the west, *'lhe spur of the Cordilleras," which 
divide the Empire of Mexico, and towards the cast the less 
known but not less wonderful mountains of the Wind River, 
where are found the sources of the large streams that empty 
themselves into the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The 
Black Hills and the table lands called Prairie hills, which 
separate the sources of the upper Missouri from those of 
the Mississippi, the Ozark and the Masscmc ridges may 
all be considered as so many collateral chains of the Rocky 

According to trigonometrical calculations, and obser- 

**Sttivmter Rlnr, for wUrh vr W^vib'i Onfirm. In Oqr idIutv tiL fk $> 

^Tbe iwto folWitvd &im tht pdnl vbov the mil rcMlwd tbc Pkur. »a* 
■hwa Ifcc Tftrr m \\% fnrli^ ttmcv up thr Sooth Fott io ft« \t^, hcvtM^ to the 
tVoilh Fork tX .^h CT«ek. kk>Dg tb« louth buik of ibc Uxoki Mnun (c the juoctipa 

Cuptr. Wjtvning, and aking thf math tsftk. uraaA ttMSOfj to Ae SwMvtfiv^ 
to Moid the cafion «f ib* Noffh Plaitt — Eo. 


iS4i-T&4v| De Smet*s Le/ffrs ^nd Si^Ukfs 


vatioQs, made by means of ihc barometer, Mr. Boncvflle,** 
[;7] in his Memoirs, asserts th^i the summits of some of 
these mountains arc 35,000 feet high.*' This height would 
Appear much cxaggenitcd, if we consulted only the testi- 
mony of the eyes, but it is well known that the mountains 
which are found in immense plains, are not unlike ships 
seen on the ocean; they appear much less elevated than 
they are in reality, Wliatcver may be the height of these 
colossal mountains, it was at their base that we hoped to 
meet our dear neophytes. But a messenger we had sent 
to acquaint them with our arrival, has just returned, and 
informed us that the Indians who lay encamped there, 
about a fortnight ago, went in a southerly direction to hiuit 
the buSalo. We know not whether thoiic Indians were 
Flat Heads or belong to another nation, and it is to obtain 
information on this subject, that we are going to despatch 
a second messenger. In the mean lime» I shall continue 
my journal. The numerous notes, which, on account of 
our slow progress, we have been enabled to take on the 
spot» will warrant that exactness of description, which is 
the more desirable, as it is a quality frequently wanting in 
the accounts given of these distant r<^ions. Not to exceed 
the bounds of a lengthy letter, I shall say but little con- 
cerning perspectives, flowers, birds, animals, Indians, and 

With the exception of the mounds which run parallel 
to each other on both sides of the Platte river^ and after 
passing under the Black Hills, disappear at the base of the 
Rocky Mountains, the whole plain which we traversed for 
1500 miles after we had left Westport, might be called the 

"* Fur a \idd ikclcli of CiipUin BonncYiUr, ace oiu volume o, p. »67, DOte 
iftT' — En, 

'* Tfaf hifttial pmki of Ihe Rock^ Mounlaiiis. and of the vkilr Cotdiltprui 
Bjvtem wiihin Ihc bouocUTM* ol the UiUT«d SUtd; do AOt much enved toumvn 
IbouBnd Icct.— Ed. 


Rarly Western Traveli 


Pntirie Ocean. In fact, nearly the whole of ihis leirilory 
is of an undulating forrn, and the undulations resemble 
tbc billows of tbc sea vrhcn agitated by the storm. On the 
tops iA some of these elevations vrc have M-cn shells and 
pcTtrifactioni^ such as an: found on srveral mountains in 
[78] Europe- No doubts some impartial Rcologists may 
discover herc> as Xh^' have done clsrvv'hcrc. incontestable 
piDofs of th^ deluge. A jietriiied fragment which I have 
in my possession, seems to contain a number of these shells. 

In pjt^portion as one removes from the benfcs of the Mis- 
souri or penetrates into the Western regions, the forests 
lose much in height, density and depth, in consequence of 
the scarcity of water. Soon after, only the rivers are lined 
with narrow skirts of wood, in which are seldom seen any 
lofty creeks. In the neighborhood of creeks and ri\"ulcts 
we generally find willow bu^es, and where then* is no 
water it would be vain to look for any thing but grass, and 
even this grass is only fotmd in the fertile plains that lie 
between Westport and the Platte river- 

This intimate conneacion between rivers and forests i^ so 
striking to the eye, that our beasts of burden had not jour- 
ncycd more than eight days through this desert, when we 
saw them in some manner exult and double their pace at 
the sight of the trees that appeared at a distance. This 
was chiefly observable when the day*s journey had been 
rather long* This scarcity of wood in the western regions, 
so much at variance with whal is seen in other parts of 
North America, proceeds from two principal causes. In 
the plains on this side of Platte river» from the custom 
which the Indians who live here have adopted, to fire their 
prairies towards the end of autumn, in order to have better 
pasture at the return of spring; but in the Far West, where 
the Indians do not follow this practice, (bc<:ausc they fear 
to drive away the animals that arc necessary for their sub* 

iS4t-tS4?] Df Smrt'j Letters and Sieirhet 


sistencr^ or to expose themselves to be discovered ijy Ihc 
strolling parties of their enemies,) it proceeds from the 
nature of the soil, which beii^ a mixture of sand and light 
earth, is every where so very barren that vrith the cjrcq>- 
lion [79] of the absynth*' that covers the plains, and the 
gloomy verdure that fihades the mountain.^ vegetation is 
confined to the vicinity of rivers,— a circumstance which 
renders a journey through the Far West extremely long 
and tedious, 

At considerable distances, chiefly between the Kants 
(Kansas] and the Platte rivers, arc found blocks of granite 
of different sizes and colors. The reddish is the most com- 
mon. In some of the stony parts of the Black Hills are 
also seen numberless quantities of small pebbles of all 
shades. I have seen some that were united into solid 
masses. If the^e were well polished they would present 
the appearance of fine mosaics. The columns of the House 
of Representatives in Wa^iington arc deemed very hand* 
some^ and arc made of similar concretions. 

On the feast of St. Peter a remarkable occurrence took 
place. We discovered an equally curious quarry, which, 
at first, we took for white marble, but wc soon found it 
aomething more valuable. Astonished at the facility with 
which we could fashion this kind of stone into any shape, 
most of the travellers made calumets of it. I had several 
made myself, with the intention of offering them as pres- 
ents to the Indians, so that for the spare of forty-eight 
botu^ our camp was filled with lapidaries. But the greater 
number of these calumets could not withstand the action of 
the firCf and broke* It was alabaster. 

The first rock which wc saw, and which truly deserves 
the name, was the famous Rock Independence. It is of 

*Thr uEC-bnuh {Aritfntia Indinitala), the Kuropctn «p«cufi of iHach \$ 
ktwwn ai ufuntiwiXHl uf abduih (H, abwtihium). See aiiM. p. 174, note 44.^ Es. 


Earfy Wiitem TravtU 


the same nature as the Rocky Mountains* At first I was 
kd to believe that it had received this pompous name from 
its utolatcd fdtuation and the solidity of its basis; but I 
was afterwards told that it was caJled so because the first 
travellers who thou^t of giving it a name, arrived at it on 
the very day when the people of the United States cele- 
brate the [80] anniversary of their emancipation from 
Great Britain. We reached this spot on the day that 
immediately succeeds this celebration. We had in our 
company a young Englishman, as jealous of the honor of 
his nation as the Amenoins; hence we had a double reason 
not to cry hurra for Independence^ StQl, on the following 
day, lest it might be said that we passed this lofty monument 
of the desert with indifference, we cut our names on 
the south side of the rock, under initials (I. H. S-) which 
we would ^ish to sec engraved on every spot. On account 
of all these namea, and of the dates that accompany them, 
as well as of the hiemglyphics of Indian warriors, I have 
suinamed this Rock "the Great Record of the Desert." 
I shall add a few remarks about the mounds that are seen 
in the vicinity of the Platte river The most remarkable 
of all, at least that which is best known to the generality 
of travellers, is the mound to which they have given the 
name of "chimney." It is called so on account of its 
extraordinary form; but instead of applying to it an ap- 
pellation which is rather unworthy this wonder of nature, 
just because it bears some resemblance to the object after 
which it is named, it would have been more proper to call 
it "the inverted funnel," as there is no object which it 
resembles more. Its whole height, including the base, body 
and column, is scarce less than four or five hundred feet ; the 
oohimn or chimney is only about one hundred and thirty 
feet high, so that there is nothing striking in the loftiness 
of its dimensions. But what excites our astonishment, is 

tS4t-iS4') Df Smrfs Letters and Siftchfs 219 

the manner in which this remnant of a mountain, composed 
of sand and day. has been so shaped, and how it has for 
such a length of time preserved ihis form, in spite of the 
winds that are so violent in these parts. It is inie that this 
mound, and all those that are found near it, is composed 
of a successive number [81] of horizontal and perpendicu- 
lar strata, and has about the middle a zane or belt, consist-* 
ing of a vein of peirilied clay. If from these two facts it 
would be inferred that at a certain height the substance of 
which the horizontal and perpendicular 5trat& are formcilj 
is susceptible of being hardened so as to approach the 
nature of stone, then we might perhaps account in some 
manner for the wonderful formation of this curious orna- 
ment. Yet the main diHiculty would still remain, and we 
would at last be compelled to have recourse to the system 
of occult qualities. The existence of the chimney is 
therefore a problem, and if auy scientific person should 
wish to solve it, I would advise hiin to repair to this monu- 
ment without delay^ as a cleft which is seen at the lop, 
and which in all probability will soon extend to the base, 
threatens to leave nothing of it but the remembrance of 
its existence." 

The chimney is not the only remarkable mound to be 
met with in this vast solitude. There arc many others of 
various forms. One is called "the House/' another "the 
Castle," a third "the Fort/' &c. And, in fact, if a travel- 
ler was not convinced that he journeys through a desert, 
where no other dwellings exist but the tents put up at night 
and removed in the morning, he would be induced to 
believe them so many ancient fortresses or Gothic castles 
and with a little imagination, based upon some historical 

*Blflvc1] thufl de«rnb«t thii Undmvk: "A noted Ucdnifcrk on Uie North 
Fijrt, which wc ii>ilitcil fill* lallc* ftrf*y, "u Chimnry Ri>ti. It waa then ncaily 
•riuaren anri I Ihink \t miun haw b«n fifty f«t higher ihin no*r, though »fier 
Wfl ^fttted It a portion fall off." CtmHtry Sta^tint, nh:, p, iiS,— Ejt. 



Earfy fVeitem TnrtJeJs 

[Vol, .7 

knowledge, he mighl think himself tmnspoiietl amid the 
ancient niansions of Knight errantry. On one side arc 
scco large ditches^ and high walls; on Ihc other, avenues, 
gardens and orchards; farther on, parks, ponds, and lofty 
Irws- Sometimes the fancy presents a castle of the mid- 
dle agesj and even conjures up the lord of the manor; but 
instead of aU those magnificent remains of antiquity, we 
find only hnnren mounds on all sides, filled with cliSs formed 
by the falling [89] of the waters, and serving as dens 
to on infinite number of rattle snakes and other venomous 

After the Missouri, which in the Far West is what the 
Mississippi is in the North, the finest rivers are the Kan- 
sas, the Platte, and the Eau Sucrce. The first of these 
falls into the MLssoari, and receives the waters of a great 
number of tributary streams. Of these tribularies we 
counted as many as eighteen before we reached the Platte. 
Hence we may infer that the country abounds in springs, 
and lliat the soil is compact and covered with veniure. 
The reverse may be said of the neighborhood of the Platte, 
where springs and verdure are seldom seen. Even on the 
mounds that run parallel to its banks, the waters that fall 
from tlie clouds, upon a sandy and porous soil, run down 
into the vallies. But the prairies that receive the overflow- 
ing waters of the river are extremely fertile, and appear 
beautiful in spring, being enamelled with a great variety of 
flowers. The sight of the river itself is still more pleasing; 
though in spite of all its beauties, it has, like the most 
remarkable of its mounds, received a vulgar name. This 
proceeds From the custom which some travellers have of 
applying to objects the names of things with which they 
are well acquainted. They have called it Flaite or Flat 

*■ Sec vnpttvingA of thcM boUubully cut n>ck« in CWurj Magatim, 9f. 
cA.i p. m.--ED, 

i84i-<84al De Smet's Letters mJ Sketches 


river, on account of il3 width and shallowness: the former 
often exlending six thousand feet, whilst its depth is but 
from three to five feet, and Bomctimes less- This want of 
proportion destroys its utility. Canoes cannot be used to 
ascend it, and if barges sometimes come down from Fort 
I-a Ramee to the mouth, it is because they are so con> 
stnicted that they may be converted into hedges and 
pushed on by the hands of men. The author of Astoria 
has properly defined it "the most magnificent and most 
useless of rivers." Abstraction nude of its defects, noth- 
ing can be more pleasing [83] than the perfective which 
it presents to the eye; though besides the prairie flowers 
and the ranunculus, its banks bear only the eglantine and 
the wild vine; for on account of the fires made in the 
autumn the lofty vegetation is entirely confined to the 
islands that stud its surface. These islands are so numer- 
ous thai they have ihe appearance of a labyrinth of grove-S 
floating on the waters- Their extraordinary position gives 
an air of youth and beauty to the whole scene. If to this 
be added the undulations of the river, the waving of the 
verdure, the alternations of light and shade, the succession 
of these islands varying in form and beau(y, and the purity 
of the atmosphere^ some idea may be formed of the pleas- 
ing sensations which the traveller experiences on behold* 
iDg a scene that seems to have started into existence fre^ 
from the hands of the creator. Fine weather is common 
in this temperate climate. However, it happens some- 
times, though but seldom, that the clouds floating vrith 
great rapidity open currents of air so violent, as suddenly 
to chill the atmosphere and produce the most destructive 
hail stonns. 1 have seen some hailstones of the size of an 
^g. It is dangerous to be abroad during these storms. 
A Sheyenne Indian was lately struck by a hailstone, and 
remained senseless for an hour. Once as the storm was 


Early Western Travels 


raging near us, we witnessed a sulilime sight. A spiral 
abyss seemed to be suddenly formed in the air- The 
clouds followctl each other into it with such velocity^ that 
they attracted all objects around than, whilst such clouds 
as wrn; loo lar^r and loo far distant to fctrl its influence 
turned in an opposite direction. The noise we heard in 
the air was like that of a tempest. On beholding the con- 
flict we ^ncied that all the wirds had b^n lei loose from 
the four points of the compass. Ii is very probable that 
if it had approached much nearer, the whole caravan 
[84] would have made an asccn^on into the clouds, but the 
Power that confines the sea to its boundaries and said — 
"Hitherto shall thou come," watched over our preserva- 
tion. The spiral column moved majestically towards the 
NonhT and alighted on the surface of the Platte- Then, 
another scene was exhibited to our view. The waters, 
agitated by its powerful action, began lo turn round with 
frightful noise, and were suddenly drawn up lo the clouds 
in a spiral form. The column appeared to measure a mile 
in height; and such was the violence of the winds which 
came down in a perpendicular direction^ that in the twin- 
kling of an eye the trees were torn and uprooted, and their 
boughs scattered in every direction." But what is violent 
does not last. After a few minutes, the frightful visitation 
ceased- The column, not being able to sustain the weight 
at its base was dissolved almost as quickly as it had been 
formed- Soon after the sun re-appeared; all was calm 
and we pursued our journey. In proportion as we pro- 
ceeded towards the sources of this wonderful river, the 
shades of vegetation became more gloomy, and the brows 
of the mountains more cragged^ Every thing seemed to 
wear the aspect, not of decay, but of age, or rather of 

•* aMrivn mpfiTSHnt both the ry^koit with tu dMtmctlv* h*il. •nd the viief- 
tpoul «tbirh paMBd k quajtar ol a mife behiDd Lhr cunp,~ CXh 

iS4i-i^4'l Oe Smff*s Letters and SieU/ses 


venerable antiquity. Our }oy Was extatic as wr sung the 
following Ode composed for the occa^on: 

Hon cc n'at pliu one ocnbn tun*. 

Dftru I'jiKUr d'vm brilHfttil Infnlidn, 

Do MwiU RndiFUK la h«ulr chalnF* ft& 

Ot ou — it IB m* BHafkii* t»io. 
Thii grwti my Aghi — yon toffy rbain 
T^t pieniM th« «thcFe&J blut; 
"Hic RwkT Mi?unt> uppar in vie v, 

Vve KWB tlw opodfv. virgin anow, 

Gllsl'iiin^ likr )[«t]£ upon ifacjr bron -~ 
Awl oVr yon pstnl ptak iv>w iireuns 
The golden light of dity'a lint bean*. 

Ron from (heir )r«-f Ud niRimiT^ ^ftp* 
TTic lining waurB jo^om Je*pl 
Aoil ftmly DD xhro' vkllSn ^^^ 
SwMier ihdu hoficy mrnd their «ty. 

ll U bnaoK on yon prauct hdgbt. 
The f«>arUFd aodta of life and Light: 
tl b. (lul LhcTTt tb* OmniiioU'tiL 
Hmth pitrhrrl Bin rvpr|*TOiig irnl — 
Tbe God wtioM Jove no tongue cad tcUf 
Amob^ hu children ddgiL* Co dwell. 

All hall \ n]4j«tic Rock — tbf hone 
Wlicic many 4 wBJid*m yd sbi-U cone; 
Whefp G{jd hjmvtf, tr'im His own he*TT 
ShjiU far«llh and pc4w and joy iiripstt, 

5utttitt »i1in — fiKvelJ lo fui,— 
The awwt-voited hymn of p«<c ! httr; 
lis lone hath (uuchcd ilie red-iuAD's lOuU 
Lol o'tT hSi duk bnair tefir-drDpi toU. 

Cl wn the sileni vrildemos 

!>luJl ef hi3 vith hd tong of pruK; 

And infant lipo, ttcm morn till ev'it, 

Sh«n rhHunt ihy kiwr — gn-ai King c>J heav'n. 

Foihci ind Ondl how iar above 

Al] humnp rhouf^hi. Thy wondrwit IotpI 

How fttnnge the palb by which Thy hunt 

Wuuld IcjiJ ihc Tribes oi litis biuk land, 

From djirknctsn crime and miwiy, 

To Uve and rapi in blies with Th«cl 


Early tVfxtim Travth 


As I have been speaking of rivers I shall give (you) a 
short geoj^craphical description of the Missouri, which I am 
[86] inclined to call my river, as I have so often ascerxled 
aiul descended it during the last four years, travelled filong 
itH banks, and crossed almost all its tributaries from the 
mouth of the Yellow Stone to the place where the mighty 
river mingles its turbid stream with that of the peaceful 
Mississippi. I have dnink the limpid waters of its sources, 
and the muddy waters at its mouth, distant more than three 
thousand miles from each other. The prodigious length 
of its course, the wQdness and impetuosity of its current 
have induced the Scioux to call it ^'the jurious.*^ When* 
ever I crossed this ma^ificent river the sensations which 
I experienced bordered on the sublime, and my imagina- 
tion transported me through the world of prairies which 
it fertilises, to the colossal mountains whence it issues. It 
is in the heart of the Rocky Mountains that the Missouri 
takes its rise, together with many other magnificent streams; 
such as "the Father of Waters/' into whose bosom it flows, 
after having fertilised its own borders to a vast extent, — 
the Arkansas, and the Red river, both, like itself, majestic 
tributaries; the Columbia, which becomes the reservoir 
of all the waters of the Oregon territory', and the Rio Colo- 
rado which after winding its course through a gloomy 
and rocky desert, invtgoiBtcs the most beautiful part of 
California. The Missouri, praperly so callcxl, is formed by 
three considerable forks that unite their waters at the 
entrance of one of the passes of the Rocky mountains. The 
North fork is called 'Uhe Jackson," the South ''the Oal- 
latin/' and the one between them "the Madison/* " Each 
one of these is subdi\-ided into several small arms that flow 

'llitf ihn* forka ol lh« Miswiurt vere rum«d by Ltfit« &ail CUfk (iKoj) 
la honor of the pruident of the Un^Lcd StAtc* and hb chkC *id«i«ait Ibc tKic 
(»rio of 9U1P ami ol thf trfuuiy. — Eo, 

T84i-iS4a| Df Smifs hetttrs and Sketchet 225 

from the mountains, and almost mingle their waters with 
those of the upper forks of the Columbia on the western 
side. I have drunk of both, dUtant only about fifty yards 
from each other; for the same field of snow supplies both 
the Atlantic [87] and Pacific oceans. After the jxmclion of 
the forks, the Missouri for a considerable distance, become* 
an impctjous and foaming torrent. Below this, its bed \% 
more spacious, and iis course more tranquil. Steep rocks 
of a black hue jut and rise above its current to a height of 
nearly a thousand feet. The mountains, along whose base it 
runs, are shaded by pines, cedars, fir and turpentine trees. 
Some of these mountains present a solitary aspect, and 
wear a look of unspeakable grandeur* The river, for the 
space of seventeen miles, is seen raging and foaming, roll- 
ing from cataract to cataract with a roaring noise that is 
repeated by all the neighboring echoes- The first of these 
cataracts measures ninety eight feet in height; the second, 
ninelcen; the third, forty-seven, and the fourth, twenty- 
six. Below the Falls, the beautiful river of Mary/* flowing 
from the North, adds its peaceful waters to those of the 
rapid and impetuous stream, Still lower, but on the oppo- 
ate side, the Dearborn and the Fancy disembogue them- 
selves through mouths respectively 150 feet in width.'* 
After many other rivers of considerable width and extent, 
we come to the Yellow Stone, the largest but one of all the 
tributaries of the Missourij and resembling the latter in 
many respects. This river too has Us source in the Rocky 
Mountains, and is 850 yards wide at its mouth; its bed is 
^actous, its current rapid; its length is about 1600 a\ilcs, 

■ Mnru'i Sivtr, for which •» our wilume ^rni, p. M* nof* yj.— ED. 

*" Dparbom Rtvci. rtamcd hy Lewis itad Cbuk (jfioj) for llie 5«77Ury of war, 
wai ID r«lity & wrfltprn dfflutnf Abo^. oat btlow. th« Gruil F^U- By " I'Ancy," 
Dc SruFt probablK intcndi the 9ln«ni Damrd by L<:vJs aad Oaik "Tap^t/' but 
tiow known ni Teton Klvei — ■ trtbuury, howevtr, oJ M«1«'» River, »lThoiigh 
A^oicliing v«rv n«Ar the Ml uoiiri.— ■ Kd, 


Early WtsUm Travels 


and al its confluence with the Missouri it appears to be the 
larger of the two. For a considerable distance above the 
mouth its banks are well wooded, and its bottom lands arc 
extensive and very fertile."* The grey and black bear, the 
big homt the antelope, the stag and the common deer frc- 
qumt these regions, whilst coal and iron mines are in such 
abundance that for 50 years they might supply fuel and 
materials to a countless number of steam en^nes. 

188] After the Missouri has received the Yellow Stone 
river, its boHom lands become more extensive; yet as lit- 
tle or no wood is found on them, it may be long before 
attempts will be made to cultivate them. The White Earth 
river coming from the North, and the Goose river from the 
South, are not very con^derable. The width of each at 
the mouth is 300 yards. The Little Missouri, though shal- 
low, has a rapid current, and has its sources in the South, 
as also the following streams:" Cane river, near the vil- 
lage of the Mandans; Cannon Ball river, Winnipenhu, 
Sewarzena and Sheyenne river, which is navigable for 400 
mile^; a rapid and muddy stream, 400 yards al the mouth ;•' 
Tclon river and White river, so called on account of the 
color of its waters, which arc unwholesome. It is naviga- 
ble for 500 miles, has a rapid current, and measures about 
300 yards at its mouth. The lands which it waters in the 
upper country arc barren, and abound in animal and ve^ 
tabic petrifactions, whilst its banks have every where a 
fantastic appearance." Next and on the same side we 

•fof iKo *' Vclkm^tOM" ■» our TOlumt nU, p- 3;;, note %%t- — Eo- 
**Ofi th«M vtnuns SH Thtuunlliftn'B rr^ivlj. In our volume xxii, pp, 367, 
S5S, i6g, nota J43, j44< 34^-— lii>' 

'^ For thvtr Tiven coEuuIt th« FDlt^ving: Cuv (Knile), our volume xxii, p^ 3^7, 
nolc ^y, CAnoonbal], ^tid.. p, 33R, note 306; Wnnlpeahu (Gnivl), our volufoc 
fiiv, i>. £7. outc 50; SeMrat^ftoft {MomuK «iit volume v, p. ii;, owe St: 

Chv^nnfT »W^i P' <**. *"»** S'^- ^^■ 

" Foi Teton River, South DiJeoU, kc out toIuoic udr, p, 45, no\t ^6; for 
WhitP River ftDd ta "bad bndi," ibii.. p- ^, note 64-—^ £i>' 

iS4i->S4>] De Smet's Letiers and Sketches 


meet the Poncas and RuDning Water river, the latter of 
which ha5 a fine current. Medicine and Jacques rivers 
enter the Missouri from the opposite side; the bitter is 
also called the rendezvous of the beaver hunters and runs 
nearly parallel with the Missouri/' After the While Stone 
and the Vermillion, wc find the Big Scioux river, on which 
b found the fine red fitone quarry explored by the Indians 
to make their calumets. The Floyd and the Roger, the 
Maringoin, the Nishncbatlana and the Ncdowa fall into 
the Missouri on the Northern sidc-^" lis chief tribu- 
tary, the Platte, rises like itself in the Rocky %foi]ntain5 
and extends its course ncariy two thousand milcs^ Though 
it be a mile wide at the moulh yet it is shallow, as its name 
indicates, and is not navfgahle, the two Nemahasflow from 
the South and the Linie [89J Pbtte from the North.**' The 
Kanzas, on the South side, is about a thousand miles long* 
and is navigable to a great distance- Grand river, from 
the North, is a wide, deep and navigable stream. The two 
Charetons are found on the same side, whilst the Osage 
and Gasconade rivers enter from the South. The former 
is an important stream, navigable for 600 miles, and having 
its sources near the waters of the Arkansas: whilst the 
latter, though navigable only for 66 miles, is equally impor- 

Tor pDiKa Cra«k Me our yolumo uiir p. )gj. DoM 353; th« NlotiiuiL 
(Rucrdng- Watpr) {a rvMrvl In our voduoc v. p. ^. nolr (4; the Jun4 (Jifqiwt), 
lo valiMnc %Biy p. iti. aoCc }jK. Mcdidnc U « imoU <rTck in noitbcuUn 
Ntlm»k* — Ed, 

^"^ Wyioloiw is Ihe lume givm by Le*vii and Clafk to Ihe ifrcAni &f(crw«fd> 
knuwn as ibc VcnnUiun — kc urui vuluinc fi, p. $7. ix.>\k jl; iai Ilie B'jf Siuu 
an 1^,, p S$. mtr jo; Fluyil'a Cr«lt cnm» io jusl below iFw liLiifl at Vhc sun* 
iam«. «H?r* Scrge&m Cturirt ¥\vr^ of the Lv«u And rUrk ftpvdilioD wu UiHed 
^■ec our Talumc ^, p^ gi. oote $6; llic Boyti (Ruficr) is mtcd in put votunv 
tUv, p. 105^ note 83: ihe MAringnin U pnhabLy iflt^mlnl Cat Ihr Mninnaiiu (1>m 
Moiiick), ft 'wrvsXtm Inbatarv of Ihe Mlsal^ppi; Mt cur volume vi^ p, "j^^ cote 
94t tot Ihc N'lihnalxncu, and v. p. )7, note ^» for ibf Nodaway (N^ow>)- — Ed, 

'^ For the Nctnithji *cc our valLtme vj^ p. ii^ nolc sj; lIit litiLr PUttc rijci 
In Union Counljr* muthcrn luwa, and flows souLbwinl ihiough tLut part ol Ml»< 
aoviri koown as the Platte purrhaae.-^ £«. 


Early WfHem Travels 


Umt, on account of the &nc Urge pine forests that supply St- 
Louis and the adjacent country with lumber. I shall say 
DothinR of the many other less remarkable tributaries of 
the Missouri, such as the Blue Watcr^ the Midc^ the Bonne 
Femmc, the Manitoo, the Muddy, the Loutrc, the Cedar, 
the BufTalo, the St, Johns, the Wood river, the Chareitc, 
Bonhomme, Femme Osage, &c,**' The length of the 
Missouri, from its sources to the Yellow Stone, is S8o miles, 
fmm the Yellow Stone to its junction with the Missisaippij 
is about 2300. I subjoin a list of the Forks of its great 
tributaries which I have seen and crossed^ 

Beaver Head, Big Hole Fork, Stinking Water, Forks 
of the JcHcison^ Powder River, Tongue River, Rose-bud 
River, Bij( Horn River, Clarke River, Rocky River^ Trav- 
erse River, Loutre River, 25 Yard River. Gallatin River, 
Wind River, Forks of the Yellow Stone. Horn River, 
Wolf River, RIgwood River, North Fork River, South 
Fork River, Cabin Pole RiveTj Horse River, La Ramee, 
Eau Sucree, Forks of the Platte, Grande Sablcuse, Horse 
Shoe River, St Peter's River, Red River, Kennion River, 
Deer River, The Torrent, Branches of the North Fork of 
the Platte, Soldier's River. Ouaggerehoosse River, Vermil- 
lion River. Black VermiUtoa River, Sick River, Knife 
River, Blue Waters, Forks of the Kansas. Mar}''s River, 
[90] Big Bone, Yungar River, Potatoes River^ Grand 
Fork, Forks of the Osage. 

1 left off my narrative on Sugar River, otherwise called 
Eau Sucree; I must interrupt it to listen to the good tidings 
ihal are brought from the mountains, 

I remain, Rev. and Dear Father, 

Your dutiful Son in Christ, 
P, J. De Smet, SJ, 

^^ Tb«e an? aXi Miuntirj Artdin^ n^«itJonKt for th« mosl i>art by LpwIi And 
Clark (Bee Ofifmai J/mmatSt Indu), Upon Ww>d River (Du B«ds) the e<pe» 
ditioa n?aJccvouBcd dwing the wiaicr ai tS9^^J4. — £i>. 

i. -A ^, 

1841-1843] J% Smft's hetters and Skftchcs 



Fort Hall, August i6th, 1841. 
Rev, and Dear Father Provincial: 

It was on the eve of the beautiful festival of the assump- 
tion that wc mcl the vanguard of the Flat Heads. We met 
under the happiest auspices, and our joy was proportion* 
ate- The joy of the savage is not openly manifested — 
that of our dear neophytes was tranquil; but from the 
beaming serenity of their looks, and the feeling manner in 
which they pressed our hands, it was easy to perceive that, 
like the joy which has lis source in virtue, theirs was heart- 
felt and profound- What had they not done to obtaia a 
mission of "Black Gowns?" For twenty years Ihcy had 
not ceased to supplicate the Father of mercies, (or twenty 
years, in compliance with the counsels of the poor Iroquois, 
who had established [91] themselves in their tribe, they had 
conformed, as nearly as they could, to our creed, our man- 
ners, and even to our rrli^ious practices. In what Catholic 
parish was the Sunday, for example, ever more religiously 
observed ? — During the ten years just elapsed, four deputa- 
tions, each starting from the banks of the Bitter Root, on 
which (hey usually assembled, had courageously ventured 
to St. Louis, over a space of 3,000 miles, — over mountains 
and vaUics, infested by Black Feet and other hostile tribes, 

Of the first deputation, which started in 1831, three 
died of diseases produced by the change of climate/" The 
second embassy reached its destination; but owing to the 
great want of missionaries in the Diocess of St, Louis, 

'* For this ftfti dcpuution spf Towiueod's Namtivt, in our volume nd, p. t jS, 
bole 15. Thf deputies appairntty utivhI in the aulxuon ol 1S31 tnd piUB«d tb« 
wintrr in ot ac*f ihc city, where two of ibcii number tiled. Sec CUilleudcit Aod 
Richmxlun. Dt SmH, 1. pp. «f, », — Eo. 



Eariy IV €S tern Travels 



recdved nothing but ptomisrs. The third, which set out 
in 1837, consisted o( five members, all of whom were 
unmercifuUy nussacrcd by the Scioux.'^* AH these crossesi 
howfvirr. were insufficieat to abate their zeal. In 1S39, 
they fi«Tit two Iroquois deputies, one of whom was named 
Peter, and the other '* Young Ignatius/**" to distinguish 
him from another called "Old Ignatius." These they 
earnestly advised to make stilt more pres^ng entreaties to 
obtain the long sought blessings a "Black Gown, to con- 
duct them to heaven.'' Their prayers were, at length, 
heard, even beyond their hopes. One Blade Gown waa 
granted, together with a promise of more, if necessary for 
their greater good. While Peter returned in haste to the 
tribe to acqtiaint them with the complete success of their 
mission, Ignatius remained at Westport, to accompany 
the promised missionary, I had the happiness to be that 
missionary; I visited the nation, and became acquainted, 
in person, with their wants, their dispoations, and the 
necessities of the neighboring tribes. After an absence 

^ a«h ihe HTond And ihird nnhsftnn wprr hmled by Uw Imquui toduiB 
known «« *'Old IgnncCp" cihrrwi^ tgnair La Mouse, nho wiwa edxicitfd at the 
mladoQ of C«ug1itiawiiga. itnd bad gom^ t> the RiKky MountiliLi lirlwHii iSta 
ftod i83<> The Inviunis wpre much *iflplnje<t by th* NoHb W«l Compioy and 
IhUt by the Hudson's fiitv CompAnv. to buui fur-tradiog portici in tbc Fur Wol^ 
Ignuc sirnled amuti); Ihc Flathc4d». whtrr lie mATricd, itjid (augbt the tribe ihe 
rudinitnts of the religion he hid l««m^d tX tha Caru'lian musicn. TowateiuJ 
(*ec ouf volume xtj] notei th«u ot»crvMtcv nf Sunday, nod ly^mj oi nxuihip. 
Tbt detcKOCioEi vhjch Ignwre imdniook Ua the ;>ijqKa« of teturlng a "black 
robf," Bct out in 1S35 Hia fifii tnicotLon wa* lo vijit C*o»da, Inil lenrnmg ihal 
Joiiita were aX S\. Louis he journcj^ thither, taking with him his two Kitu to 
bF b«pli£rd, See P^UadJno. Jniion cti6 WkiU in fh4 Ncrikwtsl. pp. iQ. to, 
irtmv * rroird ol Itkii bapriBm if ^sr^fi- Agjtm in iBj?, [gran hi^adHl a Kfond 
dclqpUion- Upva tbc South Pkue ihcy vctc avnt^kcn by a band of ^itx, who 
tl fmt ilEenuiied Ignace. For he wai drrssed Ji± a white man. UrwiLlinjE lo 
tlMn^n hia coinpimons, he d«.Ured himaelf an ludUo^ whereupon oil vat 
Idlled after a bra« dtfcnje.- El>. 

1" Young Ignact. *ho mrompiuiitd Fatfcer dc Smet on tU firat viait (iS**} 
lo thr nmbeada, hcranic a zealous confml, and Uvtil at bl- l^iatJus niiaaiou until 
his dnth in 1h« wlDier of 1875-76.^ Ed. 

i84i'iS43] Dt Smefs Letters and Sketchet 231 

of A year, I was now returning to ttiGTH no longer alone^ 
but with two Fathers, [92] three brotliers, laborers and all 
that was essential to the success of the expedition^ Thcjr 
themselves had travelled upwards of 800 miles to meet 
us, and now, that wc were together, both parties were full 
of vigor and hope. What joy must not these good Indians, 
at that moment, have experienced, Being unable, how- 
ever, to express their happiness, they were silent; their 
silence surely could not be ascribed to a deficiency of intel- 
ligence or a want of sentiment, for the Flat Heads are full 
of feeling, and many arc truly intelligent. These, too, 
were the dile of the nation. Judge of il by what follows. 

The chief of this little embassy pourtraycd himself in 
the following address to his companions, a few days sub- 
sequently on viewing the plan of the iirst hamlet; "My 
dear children,*' said he, "I am but an ignorant and wicked 
man, yet I thank the Great Spirit for the favors which he 
has conferred on us, — (and entering here into an admi- 
rable detail, he concluded thus:} Yes, my dear friends, my 
heart has found content; notwithstanding my wicked- 
ness I despair not of the goodness of God. Henceforth, 
I wish to live only that I may pray; I will never abandon 
prayer; (religion) 1 will pray until the end of my life, and 
when I die I will commit myself into the hands of the 
Author of life; if he condemn me, I shall submit to his 
will, for I have deserved punishment; if he save me, I 
shall hless him forever. Once ntore, then, my heart has 
found content-— What shall we do to evince ihe love we 
bear our fathers?'^ Here he made practical resolutions, 
but 1 must hasten to commemorate the zeal of each of those 
who formed the embassy. 

Simon, who had been baptised the preceding year, was 
Ihc oldest of the nation, and was so burdened with the 
weight of years, that even when seated, he needed a stidi 


Early IVesUrn Travtts 

[Vol a? 

[93] fur his ^pport. Yet, he had no sooner ascertained 
that vre were on our route to join the tribe, than mounting 
hid horse and mingling with the young wairiors tvho were 
prepared to go forth to meet us, he said: "My children* 
I shall aa!ompany you; if I die on the way, our FalherSj 
at legist, will know the cause of my death/' Dunnj^ the 
course of the journey, he repeatedly exhorted his compan- 
ions: "courage, my chiWrcn,'' he would say, ''remember 
that we are g<iing lo the presence of our Fathere;" and 
urging hU steed forward, whip in hand, he led on his youth- 
ful followers, at the rate of fifty miles per day> 

Francis, a boy from sa to seven years old, grand son of 
Simon, was an orphan from the very cradle. Having 
served at the altir, the preceding year, he would not be 
refused permission to accompany his grandfather: his 
heart told him that he was about to recover father and 
mother, and enjoy all the happiness that loving parents 
can bestow. 

Ignatius, who bad advised the fourth deputation, and 
had been a member of it, — who had succeeded in his mis- 
sion, and introduced the first Black Gown into the tribe, — 
who had just recently exposed himself lo new dangers, 
in order to introduce others, had crowned his zealous 
exertions by running for days without eating or drinking, 
wAfiy that he might reach us the soooer. 

PDchimo. his companion and brother to one of the mar- 
tyrs of the third dcpuuiion, was a young warrior, already 
reputed brave among the burave. The pret:eding year, 
tds presence of mind and bis counge had saved seventy 
of Us bredutn in arms from the fury of nearly Dineteea 
hundied Black Feet.'** 

Francis Xa\'ier was the son of old Ignathjs, who bad 
been the leader of the second and third deputatfoo, and 

i84i-iS43] De Smef'i Letters and Sketches 


had [9£|] fallen a victim to his devotion to the cau% of reli- 
gion and of his brethren, Francis Xavier had gone to Si. 
Loub a1 the age of ten, in the company of his courageous 
father, solely that he might have the happiness of receiv- 
ing baptism. He had finally attached himself without 
resen^e to the senice of the mission^ and supplied our table 
with a daily mess of fish.*" 

Gabriel, who was of mixed blood, but an adopted child 
of the nation, was interpreter for the missionaries. Being 
the first to join us on the banks of the Green river, he 
merited the title of precursor of the Flat Heads. His 
bravery and zeal had four times induced him to travel, 
for our sakes, over a space of 400 railes^ which separated 
us from the great camp. 

Such were they who now greeted us. Let them tell their 
own story. 

They had prayed daily to obtain for me a happy jour- 
ney and a speedy return. Their brethren continued in 
the same good disposition, almost all, even children and 
old men, knew by heart the prayers which f had taught 
them the preceding year. Twice on every week day, and 
three times on each Sunday, the assembled tribe recited 
prayers in common. Whenever they moved their camp, 
they carried with cbem, as an ark of safety, the box of 
ornaments left in their custody. Five or six children, 
whom I had baptised went to heaven during my absence; 
the very morrow of my departure, a young warrior whom 
I had baptised the day previous, died in consequence of 
a wound received from the Black Feel about three months 
before. — Another, who had accompanied mc as far as 
the fort of the Crows, and was as yet but a catechumen, 

'" Thli IndUik vfas koowD u Franda Saxa, and &i Jalfl 09 i^,l "Bd livinjt 
on hli own ranch In MtuouU Cnuniy. Sec tu» ponrait In PiiUiUno, tndian and 

What im ih* N^hvtit, p. 9ft — Ed, 


Earfy IViJtem Travth 


di«i of sickn<.-S5 in returning to the tribe* but in such happy 
dispositi<in5 lluit his mothrr was perfectly consoled for his 
loss by the ccQvjctlon [95] that his soul vrag in heaven. A 
f^K about twelve years of age, seeing herself on the point 
of (iying, had solicited bapti^jn with such earnestness that 
she was baptised by Peter Che IroquoUf and Tcceived the 
□ame of Mary. — After having sung a canticle in a stronger 
voice than usual, she died, saying: "Oh how bcaulihill 
I see Mary, my mother.'* So many favors from heaven 
were calculated to instigate the malice of hell. The ene- 
mics of salvarion bad accordingly attempted to sow the 
cockle among the good grain, by suggesting to the chiefs 
of the tribe that my conduct would be like that of so many 
others, who, *'once gone* had never returned.** But the 
great chief had invariably replied: *^Vou wrong our father; 
he is not double-tongued, like so many others. He has 
said: 'I will return,' and he will return, I am sure." The 
intexpreter added that it was this conviction which had 
impdicd the venerable old man, notwithstanding his ad- 
vanced age, to place himself at the head of the detachment 
bound for Green ijver; that they had arrived at the ren- 
de2vous on the 1st of July, which was the appointed day; 
that they had remained there till the i6th, and would have 
continued to occupy the same position, had not the scar- 
city of provisions obliged them lo depart. He stated also 
that the whole tribe had determined to fix upon some spot 
as a site for a permanent village; that, with this \'iew, 
they had already chosen two places which they believed to 
be suitable; that nothing but our presence was rer^uired 
to confirm their determination; and they relied with such 
implicit confidence on our speedy arrival, that the great 
chief, on starling from Green river, had left there three 
meji to an*ait us, advising them to hold that position until 
no longer tenable- 

iS4i-tS4i] Dc Sm^tj Lttffrj ami Sietchci 


Hfr«, I have much to reUte that is not lens edifying than 
sericijs; but before I enter upon the chapter of noble 
actions, [96] I must conclude what I had commenced in 
my preceding letter. But I fed bound, before all, to pay 
Mr. EmatingcT, the captain of Fort Hall, the tnhute of 
gratitude which we owe him/" 

Althcugh a protestant by birth, this noble EDglUhman 
gave us a most friendly reception. Not only did he ^ 
repeatedly invite us to his tablc^ and sell us. at first cost, 
or at one-third of its value, in a country so remote^ what- 
ever we required; but he also added, as pure gifts, many 
artides which he believed would be particularly accep- 
table. He fiifl more: he promised to recommend us to 
the good will of the Governor of the honorable English 
Company^ who was already prepossessed in our favor; 
and, what \% stQl more deserving of praise, he assured us 
that he would second our ministry among the populous 
nation of the Snakes, with whom he has frequent inter- 
course. So much zeal and generosity give him a claim 
to our esteem and gratitude. May heaven return to him 
a hundred fold the benefits he has conferred on us. It was 
at Fort Hall that we look our Anal leave of the American 
Colony, with which we had, till then, pursued the same 
route.'** It was previously to this, while we were yet at 
Green river, that those who came to that wild re^on, 

*** Frsncu Knzutiag«r, one of the chief tadori for the Hudfon'a Bay CompuiT, 
C4mc lo the ColttiobiA rt^ion atxpul iAj4; tHo re^ia Utrr he wts in command *A 
Fan Kamloopa Mvn CfOTtrnor SliDpwn passrd ihii w&y. En ^SfB. b£ ftppvAn 
to \a,tt bc<n cutioaed Ht Van Okifi^sitfl oo Ihe upper ColumbiA, vhilr Wynh 
met luai io Ihc SiuLc Rivci tounti7 i*i 1S3J-54- tic mijriTd & nJecc of M4<liinie 
McLoug^lin, «ffe of thf! govfrnOT cif Vinrouvfr, and ^e]d variouB iniport&m 
cUlione- In the njtaaui ol Ihe j'eai id whi^h Dc ^imci fncouciered him, he led 
ihc bfifi4fk into California u f nr Jti Vcrb« Bucu £San Fmidsde)^ Upun the 
nUbLEshmenl of the provincial govemmpnt In Oregon, he was rletlrd {1R4J) 
Infttinrr^ 11* IE thought t'>hiive uhirnttdy retircit iQCDhada^ — F.d. 

"■For Fort Hall te< our wilum* bb, p. aio, nn» jt (Tomiftn'l]-^ Eo. 


Earfy fVcstem Travels 

tVol. ^7 

merely for infonnfitioii or plca^mre, had turned back, with 
some fewer illuiiioas than when the)' started out upon the 
)oumey. They were five or six in niunber."* Among 
them K'as a young EngU^iman, who had been our mess- 
mate from St. Louis. In taking leave of us, this young 
man, vrho was in many respects estimable, assured us that, 
If providence should ever again throw us together, the 
meeting would give him the highest satisfaction, and that 
he would always be happy to do us all the service in his 
power. He was of a good English family, and like most 
of his countrymen, fond of travel: he had [97] alre&dy 
seen the four quarters of the globe; but qtAi muttum prre- 
griruintur. , , . He cherished so many prejjdices, how* 
ever, against the Catholic religion, that, despite all our 
good wishes^ wc were of no service to him in the most 
essential relation. We recommended him to our friends. 
I have treasured up one of bis beautiful reflections: ''We 
must travel in the desert to witness the watchful care o 
Providence over the wants of man-" 

They who had started, purely with the design of seek- 
ing their fortune in California, and were pursuing their 
enterprise with the constancy which is characteristic of 
Americans, had left us, but a few days t>cforc our arrival 
at the fort, in the vicinity of the boiling spring:* which 
empty into Bear river."' There now remained with us 
but a few of the party, who had come to the fort in order 
to revictual, .\mong the latter were the leader of the 
Colony and a reputed deacon of the Methodist sect.'" 

"° Bidvmll {Cniury UajfatMi ux. p- t«o) fi^^ the ouDca of Ihrcc 1q Addition 
to Romftlnc, the Eii;£lhUmjiD^ Fcytun, Rodgcn. und AmoK E, Fi^- Thiity- 
twi> at the CftlilnmL* p^rty went ^n to Fort Hikl with tht mistionarips. vvhilc the 
naala4ti, vnatig (hrm BidireU, branched off t9 the vnat frvm Sodk Springs. — Ce>> 

"' For Rrxr River nod Sodi Sphnji »■• Tiwriaenvl'i Nvrnttnt. ld tmt rolum* 
joi, pp. iflO. aM, notes 44i 4S' — *^**- 

^ Aocordiog U Bidmll («^, eH^, p, i>o), tbe*e two men vtre Borttc^a, inta 

]S4i-ifi4*l De Smtf's Lettirs and Siachet 237 

Both were of a peaceable disposition, and manifested for 
us the highest regard; but the former, like so many others, 
being very indifferent as to religious matters^ held as a 
maxim, "that it was best to have no religion, or else to 
adopt that of the country- in which we live;'* and wish- 
ing to display his great Bible eruditioD, he in proof of his 
paradox, ciled as a text of Sl> Paul the ancient proverb: 
Si Jueris RomtE, Romano vivite more. The minister was 
of the same opinion, but yet he wished some religionj it 
being well understood that his was the best. 1 say his^ 
because he was neither a Methodist, a Protestant, nor a 
Catholic — not even a Christian; he maintained that a Jew, 
a Turk, or an Idolatar may be as agreeable as any 
other in the sight of God. For the proof of his doctrine, 
he relied (strange to say) on the authority of St, Paul^ and 
particularly on this text: Unus Dominus una fides. In 
fact, these were the very words with which he (98] greeted 
us, the first time we saw him, and which formed the sub- 
ject of a long valedictory discourse that he delivered in one 
of the meeting houses of Westport, previous to his depar- 
ture for his western mission* By whom was he sent? Wc 
have never ascertained. His zeal frequently induced him 
to dispute with us; it was not difficult to show him that 
his ideas, with the exception of one, were vague and fluc- 
tuating. He acknowledged it himself; but after having 
wandered from point to point, he always relumed to his 
favorite tenet, which» according to him, was the funda- 
mental principle of all true belief: *'that the love of God 
is the first of duties, and that to inculcate it wc must be 
tolerant." This was his strongest point of support, the 
foundation of all his reasoning, and the stimulus of his zeal. 
The term Catholic, according to him, was but another word 

jAck*aD Cminlf, Mi»auri. vid "» Metbodiit £plKop»L pnWrhcTfl whow name 
I think <rM ftUo WilUwia."— Bd. 


EaHy Wtstem Trawls 

IVol. a? 

for '"love and philanthropy," He carried his absurdi- 
ties and contradictions so Car, that he excited ihe hilarity 
of Ihc whole camp. Hb ingenuous simplicity ft-as even 
greater than hiH tolerance. For example, he* once s&id to 
mc: "Yesterday one of the members of my persuasion 
rehimcd to mc a book which I had lent him, stating that 
it contained an exposition of the Roman creed." When 
I asked him his opinion of it, he replied* 'Mhat the book 
was full oi errors;" yet it was an exposition of Methodist 
principles that I had given him> '^Witness/' satd be, 
with emphasis. *'lhc blinding influence of prejudice," 

I had daily conversations with someone of the caravan^ 
and froiuenily with several. And although Americans 
arc slow to change their creed, we had the consolation 
to relieve our travelling companions of a heavy load of 
prejudice against our hoty religion. They parted from us, 
exhibiting signs of respect and veneration; nay, even of 
preference for Catholicity. These controversies so com- 
plctcly [99] engrossed my mind, my heart and my senses, 
thai I arrived almost unconsciously on the banks of Snake 
river. Here a great danger and a profitable lesson awaited 
us; but before speaking of the adventures of our journey^ 
I shall conclude what remains to be related of the country 
we traversed, 

Wc halted with our narrative upon the shore of the 
Sweet-water. This stream is one of the most beautiful 
tributaries of the Platte. It owes its name^ indeed^ to the 
purity of its waters- It is distinguished from its fellow 
tributaries by the numerous wanderings of its current — a 
proof that the fall of its bed is but slight. But suddenly 
changing its course, we see or rather hear it rushing 
impetuously through a long deft in a chain of mountains. 
These mountains, which harmonize well mih the torrent, 
exhibit the most picturesque scenes; travellers have 


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i34i'iS43) De Smefs hetters and Sketches 


named this spot the I>evil*s Entrance."' In my opinion, 
they should have rather called it Hcaven^s Avenue, for if 
it resembles hell on account of the frighlful disorder which 
frowns around it, it is still a mere passage, and it should 
rather be compared to the way of heaven on account of 
the scene to which il leads. Imagine, in short, two rows 
of rocks, risirg perpend icutarly to a wonderful height, and, 
at Ihe foot of these shapctess walls, a winding bed, 
broken, encumbered with trunks of trees, with rubbi^ 
and with limber of all dimensions; while, in the midst of 
this chaos of obstacles, the roarinj; waves force a passage, 
now rushing with fury, then swelling with majesty, and 
anon spreading with gentleness, according as they hnd 
in their course 3 wider or moie straitened passage. Above 
these moving and noisy scenes^ the eye discerns masses nf 
shadow, here relieved by a glance of day, there deepening 
in their gloom by the foliage of a cedar or pine, till finally, 
as the sight travels [loo] through the long vista of lofty gal- 
leries, il is greeted Ijy a distant perspective of such mild 
beauty, that a sentiment of placid happiness steals upon 
the mind. Such is the spectacle we admired at the distance 
of nine or ten miles from the Rock Independence, on the 
morning of 6th July. I doubt whether the solitude of the 
Carthusian monastery, called La Grande ChartreusCi of 
which so many wonders arc related, can, at least at first 
sight, offer greater attractions to him whom divine grace 
has called to a coniempbtive life. As for me, who am not 
Oilled to such a slate, at least exclusively, after an hour of 
raptures, 1 began to understand the cicpression of the Car* 
thusian friar, pnlchn4m transeufUibus; and I hasten to 

"" This (bAod ot the S«e«tif4icr U *baut fire mila above IndqiendeiMe Ruck. 
Ic U t rvx khoni thm huivdml y%r^% lan^ uiil thlny-ftvi? wUir Ihmugh * ipiir 
of the mountAjru in Naironi County. Wyoming, Sec illuntnCioii of cbAod in 
Fr^noni'i "EjploriPK Toui" S«ntM Dvci., tS Coii«., 3 KW't i74> ?■ SJ- — Er» 


Early fVat^m Travels 


Hence wc directed our course more and more towards 
tlie heights of the Far West, ascending, some times clam- 
beringr untii we niched the summiCT from which we dis- 
covered another world,"' On the 7th of July we were in 
sight of the unmcnsc Oregon Territory. 1 will not pre- 
sume lo add to the many pompous descriptions which 
have been given of the spectacle now before us. I shall 
say nothing either of the height, the number, or the %'ari- 
cty of those peaks, covered with clemal snows, whicJi rear 
tficir heads, with menacing aspcxrl, to the heavens. Nor 
will I speak of the many streams descending from them 
and changing their course, with unexpected 5uddcm)C3s; 
nor of the extreme rarification of the air with the conse- 
quent effect upon objects susceptible of contrnctionf at 30 
great an elevation. All this is common; but to the glory 
of the Lord> I must commemorate the imperious neccs- 
aty I experienced, of tracing his holy name upon a rock, 
which towered pre-eminent amid the grandeur around. 
May that ever adorable name be to travellers a monument 
of our gratitude, and a pledge of salvation. Henceforth 
wc descended [loi] towards the Pacific — firsts by follow- 
ing, then by crossing the Little and the Great Sandy 
Rivers."' In the vicinity of the latter, as the Captain had 
mistaken one road for another, the caravan wandered fur 
three days at random. I, myself, on a fine evening, strayed 
from the rest. I thought myself entirely lost; how was 

"^'ne uj^dii of th^ Soulh P*H it to gnduaL ilut wkihout inirmnmts ii ii 
iJlffintU IQ krto«r vh«i one atuioa the Qimuuit. Sf* W/ctk'i Orr^n*, in our 
vuluiiK Tax. p. 5S, oXe if.— Eo. 

^ Fgr little and Dig Sundv. kc TowEucEtd'ji Natr^ive, in nur Yolantc xn, 
p. 1S7, notf 36, Th<? Ifirmer was the brginrinj nf SuWrttr'j Cal Oft, vitnt- 
Umvi called ihe "Dry Drive," fccCflu** of scaivity oi woieron the route. Thli 
<;foa5cd tlirccdy to Be»r Rivcr, wjlhoul p^aiiiK 50tiihw*rtl by Fori Brid^ti. 5ui.h 
wmtlH w*m to have been lb* rmji* Uk*ii hy Dr Sm^t'* rrm^r""'/ "^^ wgulai 
UtXi wvnt d<fwn lite Big ^ndy. forded GrHD Rivvr ftw its fork*, 4n4 pro- 
(^odciJ Acrov ID ihc ulc of Fort Bridjicrr founded iwo youB Ulcr.-^Eo^ 

iS4i-i843l De Smt'tj iMters and Siftckes 


I to act? I did what tycry sincere believer m>uld have 
done in the samr circumslancts, I prayed; and then urg- 
ing on my horse, 1 tiuveiled several miles, when it struck 
mc that it would be prudent to retrace my steps. 1 did so 
instantly, and it was fortunate^ for the camvan was far behind. 
I found il encamped; still ignorant however of it5 po^< 
tion, and on a soil so arid that our jaded beasts were nectfr 
sitaled to Cast for the night. Da>-s follow, but resemble 
not each other; Iwo days subser|uently, we were sur* 
rounded with abundance, filled wiih joy, all once more 
united, and on the banks of a river not less celebrated 
among the hunters of the west, than the shores of the Platte. 
This river loses itself not far below, in clefts of rocks said 
to be no less than two hundred miles in extent, among 
which there are countless swarms of beavers, although the 
trapper has never venlured to hurl them, on account of 
the extreme peri! of the enterprise. At a certain period 
of the year, both trappers and Indians flock to this spot, 
for the purpose of bartering all kinds of merchandise. It 
was here, but eight yt-ars ago, the wa|^oD5 that first under- 
took to cross the Rocky Mountains,^^' found the Pillars 
of Hercules, and it was here too that we found the messen- 
ger of the Flat Heads, to whom 1 have already alluded, 
ThisriverislheRioColoradoof theWe*t.'*' . . . Werested 
two days upon its banks, with the company of Captain F., 
who had just returned from California,"' What they told 

"*C«pUin R[innrTil[p"i eif^diiinn of t^ji WM thf ftrat ^t^ <vnM Ihe OiWfO 
ICivet in wBi^ons- "Srt Irving, Rarky MouttSamt. charter ii^^* Ej>. 

"'Thpy wpre in waJitif upon Grwn River, 4 fribufiry of the Culmiliv Sw 
Wyclh's Orfgen, In tmt "jlamc Hid, iJ. ftcr. nott jft, — Ed. 

'^'Cupfflin Hrnrv Frueh <rnip[>K who was on* of the puxnrm rA the Rodty 
MrhuntAin Fuf CoinfjAiiy (iB:i>'^l4>^ 11*^ t»m well Kno*™ in rhv ifii?unUJn fut- 
tndc, fr^uciiil^ lieiog AaucinlrJ ihiruri vlih Flizpaliick, He ?%nirl'K guMc. 
Accdrdlnn to Biduren. h# wiu killed lh« nighl liter Itavingt lh.ii, parlj; Fi^ 
mmu Myt ^ E^fiori'ig Ejefredilion, p, 40— < thai IhU occuncd the Ullcr p*rt 
<if Augitfl, 1S41. io A ba:ile with Sioiiji and Chrycnnt-— Ztt. 


EaHy Wtitcm Traveh 

(Vol. ,7 

US concerning th^t distant country dissipated many Qlu^ions, 
and caused [loa] some of our companions, who travelled 
for amusement, to return. 

On the 3oth of July wc scriowdy thought of continuing 
our journey. To a company Ukc ours, it was not an easy 
matter. The rcmcmbranc*! of the expedition of Bonne- 
ville was still fresh in the mind^ of all; but our object was 
not the same; wc had no articles but such as w<^R' ncccs- 
saiy- — They could be transported conveniently only by 
wBgons. We placed all our confidence in God, We soon 
crossed the river, ard our equipage «'as seen coming in 
3II directions, over vallie-» and mountains. We were com- 
pelled to dear a passage, some times in the middle of a 
ravine, some times on the declivity of a rock, and frequently 
through hushes. We travelled in this manner for ten 
days, to reach Bear river, which flows through a wide and 
beautiful valley, surrounded by toft>^ mountains and often 
intcTBcctcd by inaccessible rockSn Wc continued our march 
through it during eight successive days- The river resem- 
bles in its course the form of a horse shoe, and falls into 
the great Salt lake, which has no communication with the 
aca. On our way, we met several families of So?^onc«s 
or Snake Indians, and Soshocos or Upmolers. They 
speak the same language, and are both friends to the 
whites. The only difference wc could observe between 
them, was thai the latter sverc by far the poorer."* They 
formed a grotesque group, such as is not to be seen in any 
other part of the Indian territorj\ Represent to your- 
self a band of wretched horses, disproportionate in all their 

^^'Thia iribfl u olUn i-Uvatiiifd with the Diggar tndJuis, for 4honT tro dula, 
p. 167, lurte jS; but ihc lail^i poaxsaed no honeo. Thr StjahuEuci fShaaWocpl 
app«flir to be fc hand ol ih« Shmhfini prap^ — cLokI^ alUfd. 11 IIP Smri nolM. 
but vd\h loi properly, bod Icsa virik la charittef, "lliciy wtfc tht branch of 
Sboiihom wliiih hn'A ihrii tntdng hubJutl dinag ilic bunks of Ihc Otfvn Riin^ 
whi^rrat thp ^hoihuRl (or Snnlv) roved rhiefly no Ltwit River— En. 






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1S41-1S43] Dc Smrt's Letters and Sketches 


outlines, loaded with bags and boxes to a height equal lo 
their own, and these surDiountfd by rational livings young 
and old, male and female, in a variety of figures and 
costumes, to which the pencil of a Hogarth or a Breugel 
could scarcely do justice, and you vriJI have an idea of 
the scene we witnessed. One [103J of these animals, 
scarcely four feet high, bad for its load four large sacks of 
dried meal, two on each side» above which were tied several 
other objects, terminating in a kind of platfonn on the 
hack of the living beast; and, on the summit of the whole 
construction, at a very high elevation, was seated croas- 
legged on a bear skin a very old person smoking his calu- 
met. At his side, on another Rosinante,"" was mounted 
an old Goody, probably his wife, seated in the same man- 
ner on the top of sacks and bags, that contained all sorts 
of roots, dried beans and fruits, grains and berries; in 
short, all such comestibles as the barren mountains and 
the beautiful vallies afford. These they carried to thdr 
winter encampment. Some times we have seen a whole 
family on the ^mc animal, each acconiing to his age, the 
children m front, the women next, and the men behind. 
On two occasions I saw thus mounted, five persons, of 
whom two at least had the appearance of being as able to 
carry the poor horse as the horse was to support the weight 
of these two Soshocos gentlemen. 

Some places on the Bear river exhibit great natural 
curiosities, A square plain of a few acres in extent pre- 
sents an even surface of fuller's earth of pure whitene&s, 
like that of marble, and resembling a field covered with 
dazzling snow. Situated near this plain arc a great many 
springs, differing in size and temperature. Several of 
them have a slight taste of soda, and the temperalure of 
these, is cold. The others arc of a milk warm icmpcru- 


Earfy JVfstayt Traveh 


ture, and must be wholesome; perhaps tbcy arc not inferior 
to the celebrated waters of the Spa, or of the lime 
springs in Belgium, I am inclinrd tu bclitrvr so, though 
I am not firm in the opinion; at all events, they arc sur- 
rounded by the mountains over which our lA-agons found 
it j» diHicult to pass. I therefore invite neither sick nor 
sound to te»t them. In the »une [104] locality there is a 
hole in the ground, out of which air and water escape alter- 
nately. The earth for aomc distance around resounds like 
an immense vault, and is apt to frighten the solitary trav- 
eller as he pa^es along/" 

It was here that we left Bear River. On the 14th of 
August our wagons having proceeded ten hours without 
intermission, arrived at the outlet of a defile which seemed 
to us the end of the world. On our right and lefl were 
frightful mountains; in our rear a road which we were by 
no means tempted to retrace; in front a passage through 
which rushed a torrent; but so sni:i11 that the torrent it- 
self seemed with difficulty, to force its way."" Our beasts 
of burthen were, for the first time, exhausted. Murmurs 
arose against the captain, who, however, was impcrturb* 
able, and as he never shrunk from difficulties, advanced 
to reconnoitre the ground."' In a few moments he made 
us a sign to approach; one hour after we had surmounted 
every obstacle, for we had traversed the highest chain of 
the Rocky Mountains and were nearly in sight of Fort Hall. 

■"Thif w ihr TDuic by which Ihc inll (tourI from Lhr vfttm of tlw CoLo- 
rido in thovF of Ihc LewiA, 4 difTiruU nmunuin palh in Bitnnack County, Idftho, 
4MifOJdnfttiiig the rouu t*i th« Oregon Short Line Rmilwayr— Ed. 

'*'ntf<*p1^n aar] guidp o\ i-hii erpolitirm wu llicmit FJUpacrkli, lot whom 
Kc T&vniKnd's JV<tfrjlrt*, in our volumr iii, p- igj, re*? flo Ste DeSnict"* 
|«lier rcmmmcndiiLiC bii htticv^ hx Ciuibn»kii «nil iUchvdwn, Dt .^«wfl, it. 

i&4t-i^43] -D^ Smei's Lftters ami Sketchfs 


On the evening previous to the departure of the 
camp from the Soda Springs, I directed my course towards 
the fortf to make a. few necessary arrangements. The 
young F» Xavier was my tmly compAnion. We were soon 
involved in a labyrmlh of mountains, and about nudiught^ 
we were on the summit of the highest chain. My poor 
guide, being able to see nothing through the darkneas but 
frightful precipices, was 50 pitifully rmljanussed that after 
veering about for a while, like a weather-cock, he con* 
fessed himself lost. That was not a place, nor was it a 
time, to wander at random; I, therefore, took, what I con- 
sidered, the only alternative, that of waiting for the morn- 
ing sun to ejctricate us from our embarni££menE. Wrap- 
ped up in my blanket and with my saddle for a pillow, I 
strctchai myself upon the rock, and [105] immediately fell 
into a soimd sleep. Early the next morning, we descended 
by a small cleft in the rocks> which the obscurity of the 
night had concealed and arrived on a plain watered by the 
New Port» one of the tributaries of Snake River. We 
trotted or gallopped over fifty miles in the course of the 
day. The whole way presented evident remains of vol- 
canic eruptions; piles and veins of Uva were visible in all 
directions, and the rocks bore marks of having been in a 
Stale of fusion. The river, in its whole length, exhibits 
a succession of beaver ponds, emptying into each other by 
a narrow opening in each dike, thus forming a fall of 
between three and six feet. AU these dikes are of stone, 
evidently the work of the water and of the sime character 
and substance as the stalactites found in some caveman^'* 
We arrived late in the evening, within half a mile of the 

fCnd). Thli characterblic of the FoTtatuI — a xn't* of <lArru of mineral dfpooll 
— EDAke il A braudfLiI mrcniion cl( i\\l\., rlnrlc jwwIh tnd fimming caxfflrJH, uid 
mny novr be noted from lh« vrirLclowi of inixu on ihr Ongon Sboit Line lUiL- 
m^. — Ep- 


Earfy IVfstfm Traveis 


Fort, but being unable to sec our way in tbc dflrknc^ and 
Dot knowing where wc wrrc. wc cQcampcd for the Di^it 
ftmoDf; the bush«Sf near the DUfgin of a small brook. 
I have the honor to be 

Rev, Father Prortncial^ 
Your most humble and obedient Bcrvant and son, 

P, J. De Suet, SJ* 


Camp of the Big-Face^ ist Sept. 1841. 
Rev. aod Dear Father Provincial: 

NcABXY four months had elapsed since our departure 
from Westport, when we met the mam body of ihr riution 
Co which we had been sent. Here we found the principal 
chiefet four of whom had advanced a day's journey to wel- 
come us. They met us at one of the sources of the Mb- 
souri called Beaver-Head, where we had encamped*" 
Having crossed the smaU river under the direction of these 
new guides we came to an extensive plain, at the western 
part of which the Flat Ifeads lay encamped. This was 
on the 30th of August, and it was only towards ntghf that 
we could distinctly discern the camp. A number of run- 
ners who rapidly succeeded each other, informed us that 
the camp was not far distant. Contentment and joy were 
depicted on their countenances. Long before the Flat 

^" BuTcHtoul AIvcT in the ir«iri bronrb of (be Jc g cfj o o, one of llbt three vrnt 
nurcrt of ili« MlttLniri- li ran* ihrou^^h i mctinlAinnus va\)ey In ■ oountjr of 
Che nme iudw, in wburh U loc*i«d Uillin, th« chirf tovo of SfMilbwectm Mon- 
taiU. 'Hu v«Ucr U nam«1 for %. n^iky pciEaE tlut bcu:^ i rtxraUAAcr lo ibr bovl 
ot li bc«v^. Lctfli ftnd Clmit tt^it. the fira hMic men knuvn u> hitvr ^i•Ltcld 
tbia localily, Tf^ clifl \hty Cflllad '' Fctvcrhcdd" it dov koo^-n fe« "PoCdI oC 
RqcIu," «bDUt ciK^it^cn nul«a DOitK of DiUon- Sec Ofi^ttat J^Wf^Ui *i iht Lnti§ 
and Clarrk Kxptditivn, U, p. 33a. — Eo, 

i«4i-iS49l Df Smet*s Letttrs and Skttchex 


Head warrior, who b sumained the Bravest of the Bra\~e, 
sent me his finest horse 10 Fort Hatl having strongly rec- 
ommended Ihat no one should mount him before he was 
presented lo me. Soon after the warrior himself appeared, 
distinguished by his superior skill in horscnunship, snd 
by a lar^ge red scarf, which he wore after the fashion of the 
Marshals of France. He ls the handitomcst Indian war- 
rior of my acquaintance. He came with a numerous reli* 
nue, Wc proceeded at a brisk trot, and were now but two 
or three miles from the camp, when at a distance wc de- 
cried a warrior of [107] lofty stature. A number of voices 
shouted Fault Paul? and indeed it was Paul, the great 
chief, who had just arrived after a long absence* as if by 
special permission of God^ to afford him the satisfaction 
of introdjcing me personally to his proplc.*" After mu- 
tual and very cordial demonstrations of friendship, the 
good old chief insisted upon returning to announce our 
arrival. In less than half an hour all hearts were united 
and moved by the same sentiments. The tribe had the 
appearance of a flock crowding with eagerness around 
their shepherd. The mothers offered us their httlc chil- 
dren, and 90 moving was the scene that we could scarcely 
refrain from tears. This evening was certainly one of the 
happiest of our iivcs. Wc could truly say that we had 
reached the peaceful goal. All previous dangers, toils 
and trials, were at an end and forgotten. The hopeful 
thought dial we would soon behold the happy days of the 
primitive Christians revive among these Indians, tilled 
our minds, and the main subject of our conversations be- 
came the question: "What shall we do to comply with 
the requisitions of our signal vocation?" 

^ The pnndpal chjcl of the rUibud uibr ^u an hcrrUJtu? officer. Thb 
thlrf, Thcup IndUn narai: wm TioUh!u*jr, tht eqiiivfilsni o( Big oj Ij^ng Fare. 
wu Iho lirtt oT tht rulioa to ^M haptxwl in iS4a. For a furlhs «rcount ol hli 


Earfy IVeitem Travels 


I engaged Father Point, who is skilled in drawing and 
architecture, to trace the plan of Ihc Missionary Stations, 
In my nund, and still mnre in my heart, the mateml was 
csscntiaUy connected with the moral and religious plan. 
Nothing appeared to us more beautiful than the Narra- 
tive 0} Muratpri."^ Wc had made it our Vade Mccum. 
It is chiirfly to thrsc subjects that wr shall devote our atten- 
tion for the future, bidding farewell to all fin« perspectires, 
animals, trees and dowers, or favoring them only with an 
occasional and hasty ^ncc. 

Frt>m Furt Hall we ascended the Snake Rirer, also 
called Lewis* Fork, as far as the mouth of Henry's Fort. 
This is unquestionably the most barren of all the moun- 
tain [icSj deserts. It jibounds in absynlh, cactus, and all 
such plants and herbs as are chledy found on arid lands. *** 
We had to resort to fishii^ for the suppon of life, and our 
beasts of burden were compelled to fast and pine; lor 
scarcely a mauthful of grass could be foimd during the 

'"Lodorlco ArtritiJo Miinbofi (t67>-i7SO^ ■» ^7 minjr »fTT>Uftlrd lie 
boat vclioUr Bud andc^uknui cf his tlnw. Born fwar MnkfiAi be wu tpp oli Biid 
kRim of puUii aniiiTTi U iJuV piste, and tdikici k4t the cilt> Hb chief wock 
vu In Ihr cbHk^ puNlivh&as Amui^ia Otta «ru1 ^lyifaM £«ffab3. nluaMe 
colhccian* cf hitS* ria uii#Hit«| frAfTnenls- llmrDitli * f«1kp«-i4irEucnftB wivi vrtnt 
u niisiiouo 10 ihc Icitaii cottdUUdiy \a Fan«u»itf, raiSri Uuralori becunp inu-r- 
Htnl En tiai lind and vnm- hi iHHtB fi Ckfiaiavnm* FeJie^ nrlit if ii rww 4t4 

prcUcv ihftt hit inf'vnTuEjcHa wita drrivrd ftcto tW mmiturs »f the Jn^i;*. kdJ 
fmm cnnrersitinrn ind rtiflrrTpon<1rn«T with lh*«F »ho b^d U*if<l ifi I'lrt^iaT. 
'Hub work v^ miuiutd inio Kv«nJ Lui^A^t^ the Ea^iiS Ttnioc ^viii|( bera 
puUUocI «l Ltfnxkiu iit i^^q. Mbnlxui ir^vineuLa Uic Jesuit nnaiiuiiicy <£ 
etmv n t u i tmHitu u ■ rrriUblp r«rthty panutttt- I>«Savl's lel a w irr in Ihii 
voA dbavi hi* »mbttio« to nt^blJth » Pivi^mvui rfgone in ihe (vntunrt of 

<"%1ih tai4 p«iTy, DeSnci a<brui^iap tke $Mke or Le«i» River Id ki fortik 
ol ibWcb Hcar>'* U i^ cnotf KKiberoi. risiof iii Utory'it^kc («c oitfir. p-t7j« 
DOI» 4jV TliU uU vA]Wt, of vTiuh the mtaikaurr •pvka, hH bfi^ii pnmd 
fertile under tSelaOiKiiMoCiRicMion. Scvnl aaiiaBiol dolkri h«*t in r«c*at 
jttn hrto ifii'Bitpl in IrrlpUJcn caoftk, akint IW vaMiT of iht upper LcvW 
ibmuith whkh nma a tpur of tlv Ow g nn Short I mt lUihmf. ^ £ik 

1841-1S49] Df Smut's LrfUn and Sieuhfs 


dght days which it took us to traverse this wilderness. At 
a distance we belield the colossal sumnuts of the Rocky 
Mountains. The three Tetons were about fifty miles to 
our right, and to the left we had the three moirnds at a di^ 
Unce of thirty miles^" 

From the mouth of Henry's Fork we steered our course 
towards the mountains o\'er a sandy plain fu]Tx>v7cd by 
deep ravines, and covered with blocks of granite. Wc 
spent a day and night without water. On the following 
day we came to a small brook, but so arid is this porous 
soil, that its waters are soon lost in the sand. (Jn the 
third day of this truly fatiguing journey we entered into a 
beautiful defile, where the verdure was both pleasing and 
abundant, as it is watered by a copious rivulet. We gave 
to this passage the name of ''the Father's Defile/* and 
Id the rivulet that of St. Francis Xavier"* From the 
Father's Defile, to the place of our destination, the coun- 
try is well watered, for it abounds with small lakes and 
rivulets, and is surrounded by mountains, at whose base 
are found numberless springs. In no part of the world 
is the water more limpid or pure, for whatever may be 
the depth of the rivers, the bottom is seen as if there 
were nothing to intercept the view. The most remarkable 
spring which we have seen in the mountains^ is called 
the Deer's lodge. It is found on the bank of the main 
Fork of the Bitter Root or St. Mary's River; to this Fork 
I have given the name of Si. Ignatius. '*^ This spring is 

™ Pot Ihc Thxco DiitlcB Aad Tbiw Tctons sec Ttiwnjciid'i Narruiwvt^ in our 
volume tri, p. ^, noic aq^ — Et>. 

^''Tbe truvclkrs puacd hv Bnveitcad Valley* vbcn the mHln brwtr of thf 
FUlheail mr-l them, bv thff well-known trnen iiloDg the Hig UoIf nnd iicroM Ihe 
(Uvkle into Deer tnOtlgt! ViUcT — ih* r>ulc now followed sub^Untully by Ihe 
Oreiran Sbon Lioc Rjitway. "Father"* DdUc" must tatc been neai Hie Deer 
Lttdge divide — Et>. 

^ r*«r T^gr lAlirs lu name fmrn a ipTin^ Htnurifl mtdeh many whire-tAilHl 
deer wcte wont lo asurablt-^ The nuDenl depoiit h«d pll«d in m conlrAl hcap^ 


Earfy Westtm Travils 


situated oD the top of a mound thirt>' feet high, in the mid- 
dle o{ a mar^- It is accessible [ioq] on one ^c only. 
The Mister btilibWs up, and escaprs througlt a number 
of openings at ihe base of the mound, the circumference 
of which appears to be about sixty feet. The waters at 
the base are of difTCTenl lempemt vires: hot, lukewarm 
and cold, though but n few steps dist^Lnt fnjin eacli other. 
Some are indeed so hot that meat may be boiled in them. 
We actually tried ihc experiment. 

I remain, Rev. Father Provincial^ 
Yours, &c. 

P. J- D£ Smet. S.J, 


Sl Ignatius' River» loth Sept. 1841- 
Rev, and Dear Father Provincial: 

I iNPOiEMED your Reverence that flowers are found in 
abundance near the rock called the Chimney. Whilst we 
were there Father Point culled one flower of e^'ery kind, 
and made a fine nosegay in honor of the Sacred heart of 
Jesus, on the day of the Feast, As we proceeded towards 
the Black Hills, the flowers diminished in number^ but 
now and then we found some which we had not seen any 
whcpc, I have taken notice of many of them, for the 
amusement of amateurs, Among such as are double, 
the most crmmon arwi those that are chiefly chaiacterised 
by the soil on which they grow, are to be found on this side 

forming llK tlutpv o( ^n Induio lodffc^ Th*se ure nuw talW Wuttl Sprtngi, 
and uwd Itrt molidiAl purposn- Ttie luunc Dnr Ij^p \^ nmv »ppli«<j to the 

Tvlkj i* Icflile- tfi it> Ibwtr counc tbr nvu ulkd UcU Gale uiuicd vlth Bttlrr- 
foot (or SU U«ir'>) At htiaudU.— Hlh 

1841-1S43) Dc Sm£t*s Letters and Sketcfui 


the PIilHc River. The rose-colored lupine flourishes in 
the plain oonliguous to the Platte, as far as (he Chiirmey. 
Beyond it grows a medidnal plant, bearing a yellow flower 
pHU) five petals, called the prairie epinette; and still 
farther on, where the soil is extremely barren, are seen 
three kinds of the prickly-pcar; the flowers of these are 
beautiful^ and known among Botanists by the name of 
Cactiis Americana. They have already been naturalized 
in the flower gardens of Europe. The colors of the hand- 
somest roses are less pure and lively than the carnation of 
this beautiful flower. The wtterior of the chalice is adorned 
with all the shades of red and green. The pclah arc cva- 
sated like those of the lily. It is better [tii] adapted than 
the rose to sene as an emblem of the vain pleasures of 
this nether world, for the thorns thai surround it are more 
numerous, and tt almost touches the ground. Among 
the Simples, the most elegant is the blue-bell of our gar- 
dens, which however, far surpasses it by the beauty of its 
form, and the nicety of its shades, varying from the white 
to the deepest azure. Adam^s Needle, found only on the 
most barren elevation, is the finest of all pyramidals. 
About the middle of its stem, which is generally about 
three feet high, begins a pyramid of flowers, growing dose 
to each other, highly shaded with red, and diminishing 
in size as they approach the summit, which terminates in 
a point* Its foot is protected by a number of hard, oblong, 
ribbed, and sharp leaves, which have given it the name of 
Adam's Needle. The root is commonly of (he thickness 
of a man's arm, its color white, and its form resembling 
that of the carrot. The Indians eat it occasionally and 
the Mexicans use it to manufacture soap.'" There are 

" For A deivTtpti»] ol thli pUnC see our valucne kv, pp. i^r, t^y U It iillc^ 

tA rbp VMtta fiiamPHUjsi r>r ihc^ Southrni statu, wbrpcc its lume of "Adam'a 
DM41e-" It VI toon rommonly rBLIed tilk or bni gnu. H.n<1 iti fllBminu wm 


Early ITcjtcm Travels 


m&ny other vBikties of flowcra some of tbcm \-tTf 
renutrkibla and rare even in America, which arc atOl with- 
out a n a me even among tiaveUer^ To one of the prin- 
cipal. diatiDguished by having its bronzed kaves disposed 
m neb a manner as to imitate the chapter of a Corintbiaii 
column^ wc have given the name of Corinthian. Another^ 
a idnd of stravr color, by the form of its stem, and its divi- 
sion into twdvc branches, bnMif^t to our minds the famoiu 
dream of the Patriarch Josrph, and we have railed it the 
Josqihine. A third, the handsomest of all the daisies 
(Retncs Marguerites) that I have ever seen, having a yellow 
disk, with black arkd red shades, and seven or eight rays, 
any of which woukl form a fine fiower, has been named 
by us the Dominical, not only because it appeared like 
the Lady and Mistress of all the flowers arouixJ, but alao 
because we discovered it on Sunday. 

[112] Shbubs. The shrulis that bear fruit are few. 
The most oommon are the currant and gooseberr>* of vari- 
ous itacs and colors, the hawthorn, the rasberry, the ^ild 
cherry and the service-berry. Currants, white, red, black 
and yellow, grow every where along the mountaizis. The 
best are found on the plains, where the)* are exposed to be 
T^wned by the sun. I have classed the wild cherry and 
the service-berry among shrubs, because they are gener- 
aUy of low growth and do not deserve the name of trees. 
The scrv'icc-bcrry [cornier) grows on a real shrub, and is 
a tielicious fruit, caUcd by travellers the mountain pear, 
though it bears no resemblance to the pear, its siac bebg 
that of a common cherry. The mountam cherry diSen 
much from the European cherry. The fruit bangs in 
clusters around the branches, and is smaller than the wild 

uad lor weaving by Uie lodbai ol tbe Columbdfl, whtnca it bc<«iar tn arliclc 
of iDldtnUI ir»dv. See Or^ffw^ JtmrfhtU vj the LawU unJ CUtrk fA/Afilim. 

(841 iS4>| Di Smftr Letters anJ Sketches 257 

cherry^ whjl&: its taste and color, and the form of the 
leaves arc nearly the same as those of the latter. Cher- 
ries and service- berries constitute a great portion cf the 
Indians* food whilst the srason lusts, and they are driixl 
by them lo serve for food in the winter I may perhaps 
mention other fruits, plants and roots, that grov spontane- 
ously in different parts of the Far We-st, and are used as 
food by the Indians for want of better sustenance- 
Flax is very common in the valleys between the moun- 
tains- What must appear singular is that the root of it 
is so fruitful that it will produce new stems for a number 
of yeaiB — we examined one of them, and found attached 
to it about 30 stems, which had sprung from it in former 
years. Hemp is also found, but in very small quantities. 

Trees. Thrre are but few species of trees in the 
regions which we lately pafised. Scarcely any forests are 
found on the banks of rivers, for which I have already 
assigned a reason. On the plains we find bushes, and 
now and then [113] the willow, the alder, the wax tree, 
the cotton tree, or white poplar whose bark is used for 
horse feed in winter, and the aspen whose leaves are 
always trembling. Some Canadians have conceived a 
very superstitious idea of this tree. They say that oi its 
wood the Cross was made on which our Saviour was 
nailed, and that smcc the time of the cmdfixion, its 
leaves have not ceased to tremble? The only lofty trees 
found on the mountains are the pine and the cedar which 
is either white or red- The latter is chiefly used for 
furniture, as it is the most resistible wood of the West 
There are several species of the pine: the Norwegian, the 
resinous, the white, and the elastic, so called because the 
Indians use it to nuke bows. 

So great is the violence of the winds in the vicinity of 
the Black Hills, that the cotton wood, \vhich is almost 

158 Earfy iff stem Trawls (Vol *; 

the mly tree that gron^s there, displays the most fantas- 
tic shitpcs. 1 have seen »me whose branches had been 
sn violently twisted ihat they became inco ex] with 
the trunk, and after this, grew in such strange forms and 
directions that at a distance it was impossible to dis- 
tinguish what part of the tree was immediately connected 
with thr roots. 

Birds. I shall say but little of the birds. They are 
various in form, color and size; from the pelican and the 
swan to the wren and the humming bird- Muratori, 
speaking of the Lust, contipates him to the nightingale, 
and is astonished that such shrill and loud sounds should 
proceed from so small a body. The celebrated author 
must have been mistaken, unless the humming bird of 
South America bi^ different from that of the Rocky Moun- 
tafas. The latter does not sing but makes a buoimiog 
noise with his wings as he fiies from flower to Sower. 

Repttles. With respect to reptiles, they have been 
frequently described, and I mention Ihem only (o give 
thanks [114] to God, by whose Providence wc have been 
delivered from all such as are venomous, chiefly from the 
teKIc snake- Neither men nor beasts belonging to cmr 
caravan have suffered from them, though they were so 
numerous in places that our wagoners killed as many as 
twelvx in one day. 

Insects abound in these regions. The ant has often 
attracted the notice of naturalists. Some have seemed 
to doubt whether the wheat stored up by this little insect 
serves for winter provisions or for the construction of its 
dwelling. No wheat grows in this country. Yet the ant 
stores up small pebbles of the size and form of grains of 
wheat, which inclines me to believe that they use both for 
the construction of their cells. In either case the pater- 
nal Providence of God is manifest. They display as 

1^41-1843] De Smer'j Letters and Sketches 


much fore^ght in providing dwellings tbai are out of the 
reach of humidity and mundations, as in laying up food 
far future wants. It is probable, however, that here they 
find food of another kindi and this mighl easily be ascer- 
tained- Fleas are not known in the mountains, but there 
is another sort of vermin nearly allied to il, to which I have 
alluded in one of my former letters- And what shall 1 say 
of musquitoes? I have suSTered so much from them, that 
I cannot leave them unnoticed- In the heart of the 
prairie they do not trouble the traveller, if he keep aloof 
from the shade, and walk in the burning suu- But at 
nightfall they light on him, and hang on him till momiogj 
like leeches sucking his blood* There is no defence 
against their darts, but to hide under a buffalo skin, or 
wrap oneself up in some stuff which they cannot pierce, 
and run the risk of being smothered —When green or 
rotten wood can be procured, they may be driven away 
by smoke, but in such case the traveller himself is smoked, 
and in spite of all he can do, his eyes are filled with lears. 
As soon as the smoke ceases, they [i 15] return to the charge 
till other wood is provided and thrown on the 6rc, so that 
the traveller's sleep is frequently intemipled, which proves 
very annoying after the fatigue of a troublesome jouraey. 
Another species of insects^ called brulots, are found by 
myriads in the desert, and arc not less troublesome than 
the mus(|uitrj. They are so small that they arc scarcely 
perceptible, and light on any pari of the body that is un- 
coveredt penetrating even into the eyes> ears and nostriU. 
To guard against them, the traveller, even in the warm- 
est weather, wears gloves, ties a handkerchief over his 
forehead, neck and ears, and smokes a short pipe or a dgar 
to drive Ihcm from his eyes and nostrils. The nre-fly is 
a harmless insect. When they arc seen in great num- 
bers, darting their phosphoric light through the darkness, 

26o Early Western Traveh (Vol. t^ 

it is a sure sign that rain is at hand- The light ^vhicb 
thcj emit is very brillianl, and appears as if it proceeded 
from wandering metetirs. It is a favorite amuscmeut with 
the Indians to catch these insects, and after nibbinfi; the 
pho^haric matter over their faces, to walk aioucd the 
camp, for the purpose of frightening children and excit- 
ing mirth. 

As our hunter.^ ivere scarcely ever disappointed in Gnd- 
ing game, wc have seldom had recourse to fishing; hence 
our acquaintance with the 6nny race is rather limited. — 
On KomL- occasions, wbc^ provi^ons were- becoming 
scarce, the Unc had to supply the place of the gua. The 
&sh which wc generally caught were the mullet, two kinds 
of trout, and a species of carps- Ontrc, whilst wc lay 
encamped on the banks of Snake nver, I caught more 
than a hundred of these corps in the space of an hour. 
The anchovy, the sturgeon, and the salmon, abound in 
the rivers of the Oregon Territory. There are six species 
of salmon."' They come up the rivers towards the end 
of April, and [ti6] after spawning, never return; but the 
young ones go down to the sea in September, and it is 
supposcxl tliat they re*enter the rivers the fourth year after 
they have left ihem. 

Quadrupeds. The Beaver seems to have chosen this 
country for his own. Ever)' one knows how Ihcy work, 
and what use they make of their (eeth and tail What we 
were told by the trappers is protxibly unknown to many. — 
When they are about constructing a dam, they cicamine all 
the trees on the bank, and choose the one that is most bent 
over the water on the side where they want to erect their 
fort. If they And no tree of this kind they repair to 
another place, or patiently wait till a violent wind gives 
the nx]uisite inclination to some of the trees. Some of the 

"' For the vienlific aiunu cf Ifcese species^ ice ihid.y iacfeL — Ed, 

ifi4i-iS4il Dc Smfi'j Leticn and Sketches 


iDdian tribes believe that the beavers are a degraded race 
of human beings, whose vices and crimes have induced the 
Great Spirit to puaish them by changmg them into their 
present form; and they think, after the lapse of a number 
ol j-ears, their punishment will cease, and they will be 
restored to their original shape. They even lielieve thai 
these animals use a kind of languaRe to communicate their 
thoughts to each other, to consult, deliberate, pass sentence 
on delinquents^ &c. The Trappers assured us that such 
beavers as are unwilling lo work, are unanimously pro- 
scribed^ and e?dled from the Repubhc, and that they are 
obliged to seek some abandoned hole, at a distance from 
Uie rest, where they spend the winter in a state of star- 
vation.^" These are easily caught, but their skin is far 
inferior to that of the more industrious neighbors, whose 
foresight and perseverance have procured them abundant 
provisions, and a shelter against the severity of the winter 
season. The flesh of the beaver is fat and savory. The 
feet are deemed the most dainty parts. The tail affords 
a substitute for butter. The skin is sold for nine or ten 
dollars^ ["7] worth of provisions or merchandise, the 
value of which does not amount to a ^ngle silver dollar. 
For a gill of whiskey, which has not cost the trader more 
than three or four cents, is sometimes sold for three or four 
dollars, though the chief virtue which it possesses is to kill 
the body and soul of the buyer. We need not wonder 
then when we see that wholesale dealers in this poisonous 
article realize large fortunes in a very short time, and that 
the retailers, of whom some received as much as dght hun- 
dred dollars per annum, often present a most miserable 
appearance before the year expiresp The Honorable Hud- 

^?^tor!et <A etat* •art *rc numeraui: Ifae cliK«rded bover ii, ho^*w«r, the 
victim oE discuci t>cin|£ Atincker! \ff it pan^ic^ Ctriuuh MardA, Ctutofdegia^ 
or the Canadian Btaver (London nnd Motmral iSq?), pp. 1^9, t(A, 7)j. — Ep. 



Rarfy fFatfm Travels 

(Vol. >7 

son Bay Company docs not bdong to this c\zss of traders. 
By them (he sale of atl sorts of liquors is strictly for- 

The Otter is an inhabitant of the mountain rivers^ His 
color is dark brown or black. Like the beaver^ he is 
incessantly pursued by the hunten, and the number of 
both these animals is yearly diminished* Among other 
amphibious animals tvc find two species of the frog. One 
docs not differ from the European, but the other offers 
scarcely any resemblance. It has a tail and horns and is 
only found on the most arid soil. By some of our trav- 
ellers it was called the Salamander.^" 

Opossums arc common here. They are generally found 
near marshes and ponds that abound in small crawfish, of 
which they arc extremely fond. To catch them he places 
Himself on the bank» and lets his long hairless t^il hang 
down in the water. The crawfish are allured by the bait* 
and as soon as they put their claws to it, the opossum 
throws them up, seizes them sideways between his teeth, 
and carries them to some distance from the water^ where 
he greedily but cautiously devours his prey. 

The Badger inhabits the whole extent of the desert; he 
is seldom seen, as he retires to his hole at the least approach 
[lid] of danger. Some naturalists refer this anim:t] to the 
genuine Ursus. Its size is that of the Dormouse; its color 
silver grey; its paws are short, and its strength prodi- 
gious. A Canadian having seized one as he entered the hole, 
he required the assistance of another man to puU him out. 

The Prairie Dog, in shape^ color and agility, more re- 
sembles the squirrel than the animal from which it has 
taken its name. They live together in separate lodges, to 
the number of several thousands. The earth which they 
throw up to construct their lodges, forms a kind of sbpc 

" Stv mir voliutc xUi v- A'^ a<Hc i)3 (CregfEV~~ C^^ 

rfl4'->&4^) Dt! Smct's Lettert and Sketchet 


which prevents the min from entering the holes. At the 
approach of man. this little animal runs into its lodge, 
uttering a piercing cry, which puts the whole tribe on their 
guard. After some minutes, the boldest shovr a part of 
their heads, as if to spy the enemy, and this is the momeat 
which the hunter chooses to kill ihem. The Indians in- 
formed us that they sometimes issue in » body, appar- 
ently to hold a council, and that wisdom presides o\%r 
their deliberations. They admit to their dwellings the 
bird of Minerva, the striped squirrel, and the mttlcMiake, 
and it is impossible lo determine what is the cause of this 
wonderful sympathy. It is said too that they live only on 
the dew of the grass root, a remark founded upon the posi- 
tion of their village, which is always found where the ground 
is waterless and barren. 

The Polecat or Memphitis Americana, is a beautifully 
speckled animal. When pursued, it raises its tail, and 
dis<:harges a large quantity of fluids which nature has in- 
tended for its defence. It repeats these dl^urharges in 
proportion as the pursuer comes near it. So strong is the 
iostid odor of this liquid that neither man nor beast can 
bear it. It happened once thai Rev, Father Van Quick- 
enbomc*** [119] saw two of these cats. He tcx>k them for 
young cubs, and pleased with the discovery, he alighted 
from his horse, and wished to catch them. He approach- 
ed them cautiously, and was just ready to put his Lar^e 
hat over one of them, when ail at once a discharge was 
made that covered him aU over. It was impossible to go 

"Psihcr Chirln Felix Vui Qulrkmbi>rne WM ft BdgUn, bom In Ghcni In tfSS. 
Coming to \mcrica hr wa« miulF inmtrr of novif*4 ■! Whiirmsnh, ind in iSij 
rcnto^cJ [v KliiriaAAni. Miuouri, Wa^ made lupcrior of his ortlfi in the W«j<, 
Br WAS ujtlukii (ai Indian misionA. bi iA37'JS vEiItlng ^^ pcrun ihc Omjc, And 
i& JS36 foundiflM '^* l^ckapoo mibdun. Ha diad ftl Pon*^ do ^uuk, AugutE 
I7> iB^&, luvint revirod (ho niuuom of hl« ordor to tb« NorUi Amciiuo 
AbnrigifiaL— ' Eo. 


Early Wrstem Travrh 

[Vol. a; 

near him — aU anjUDd him was infected. His clothes 
could no longer be used, and the poor man, thouf^ 
rather late, rcaolrcd never again to attempt to catch 
young bear*] 

TTic Cabri (Antelope) resembles the derr in form and 
size, the anllcrs arc smaller and have but two brunches; 
the coior of the animal resembles that of the stag; the eyes 
arc large and piercing; and its ^it in the wilderness is 
a kind of elegant galbp. Sometimes the Antelope stops 
short and rears his head to observe his pursuer; this is 
the most favorable moment to kill him. When started 
or shot at and missed, he darts forward vritb mcrcdiblc 
swiftness, but curiosity induces Mm to halt and look back. 
T^e hunter tries to amuse his curiosit>-, by holding up and 
waving some bright colored object: the animal approaches, 
and curioaty becomes the cause of his deatli. The 
Qesh is wholesome, and easily digeaied, but it is used only 
where deer and buffalo meat arc wanting. The Ante- 
lope hunt is a favorite sport with the Indiana. They choose 
a spot of ground from fifty to eighty feet square, and en- 
close it with posts and bought;, leaving a small opening 
or entrance, two or three feet vide. From this entrance 
they construct two wings or hedges, which they extend for 
several miles. — After this they fonn a large semicircle, 
and drive the Antelopes before them till ihey enter between 
the hedges, where they press so hard upon them that they 
force them into the square enclosure, in which they kill 
them with clubs. I have been told that the number of 
Antelopes thus driven [120] into the enclosure, often 
amounts to more than two hundred. The meut of the 
buffalo cow is the most v^olesome axnl the most com- 
mon in the west. It may be called the tidWy hrti^ of the 
traveller, for he never loses his relish for it, — It is more 
easily procured than any other, and it is good throughout. 

iS4i't8*a] Df Smrr's Lfiters and Sketches 


Though some prefer the tongue, others the hump, or some 
other lavorite piece, all the parts are excellent food> To 
preserve the meat it is cut in slices, thin enough to be dried 
in the sun; sometimes a kind of a hash is m^c of it, and 
this is mixed with the marrow taken from the largest bones. 
This kind of mixture is called Bull or Cheese, and is gen- 
erally served up and eaten raw, but when boiled or baked 
it is of more easy digestion, and has a more savory taste 
to a civiltzctl palate. The form and size of the bufblo 
are sufficiently known. It fs a gregarious animal, and is 
seldom seen alone. Several hundreds herd together, the 
males on one side, the fcmiilcs on the other, excq)t at a 
certain season of the year. In the month of June we saw 
an immense herd of them on the PUlta— The chase of 
this animal is very interesting, llie hunters arc all 
mounted ; at the signal given, they fall upon the herd, 
which is soon dispersed; each one chooses his own animal, 
for he who slays the first is looked upon as the king of the 
chase — his aim must be sure and mortal, for the animal, 
when wounded, becomes furious^ turns upon his hunter 
and pursues him in his turn- Wc once witnessed a scene 
of this bind. A young American had the imprudence 
to swim over a river and pursue a wounded bufEalo with 
no other weapon but his kni/e. The animal turned back 
upon him, and had it not been for the young Englishman, 
whom I have already mentioned, his imprudence would 
have cost him his life. The greatest feat of a hunter is to 
drive the wounded animal to any place he thinVs proper. 
We had a [lai] hunter named John Gray,'" reputed one of 
the best marksmen of the mountains; he had frequently 

* Jchn 0»T **« ■» oM moualAinHf, pxwbibly acting aa Ihi* jourti*/ M^ 
guide tn ihtf Rngliihroan who i™ ntii fui bift garao. See ui account cd a trftppCff 
of ihi« name in Aleundct Rom, Puf HtaOrft oj ih4 rut Wtn (Exindfiru i^SS)- 


Ecrly Westfm Tra^trls 


given prDofs of cxtraortlinary courage and tlexlerily, esi>e- 
dally when on one occasion h.^ dared to attack five bears 
at once. Wishing to give us another siimple of his valor, 
he drove an enormous butlalo he had wounded, into the 
miditt (^r the cjiravan. The animal Irid stood abtiut fifly 
shots, and been pierced by more than twenty balls; tKre« 
times he hod fallen, but fury increasing his strength, he 
had risen, after each fall, and with his horns threatened 
all who dared to approach him. At last the hunter look 
a decifflve aim, and ihu buSalo fell to rise no more. 

The small chase is carried on without horses. An expe- 
rienced hunter, though on foot, may attack a whole herd 
of buffalos; but he must be skilful and cautious. He 
must approach them against the wind, for fear of starting 
the game, for so acute is the scent of Ibe buffalo that he 
smells his enemy at a very considerable distance. Next, 
he muM approach them as much as possible without beuig 
seen or suspected. If he cannot avoid being seen, he draws 
a skin O'^tr his head, or a kiixl of hood, surmounted 
by a pair of horns, and thus deceives the herd- When 
within gun shot, he must hide himself behind a bank or 
any other objectn There he waits till he can take sure 
aim. The report of the gun. and the noise made by the 
fall of the wounded buffalo, astound^ but do not drive 
away the rest. In the meantime, the hunter re-loads his 
gun, and shoots again, repeating the manccuvre. till hve 
or ax. and sometime more buffalos have fallen, before he 
finds it necessary to abandon his place of concealment. — 
The Indians say that the buSalos live together as the 
bees, under the direction of a queen, and that when the 
queen is wounded, all the othere surround and deplore her. 
[t^2] If this were the case, the hunter who had the good 
fortune to kill the queen, would have fine sport in de- 
spatching the rest. After death, the animal is dressed. 

1841-1343) I^ Smff's Lfttm and Si^tchfs 


tliHt is, he is stripped of his robe, quaricrcd and divided; 
the best pieces are chosen and carried off by the hunter, 
who, when the chose ho^ been successful is sometime 
satisfied with the tongue alone, 'l^c rest is left for the 
wolves These vomciou^ prowlers soon come to the 
banquet, except when the scene of slaughter ]s. near the 
camp. In such cases they remain at bay till night, when 
all is still. Then they come to the charge, and set up .such 
howling that they frighten the inexperienced traveller. 
But their yells and bowlings, however frightful, have little 
or no effect upon those whose ears have become accustomed 
to such music. These sleep with as litUe concern as if 
there were not a wolf in the country. 

Of wolves we have seen four varieties, the grey, the 
white, the black, and the bluish. The grey seems to be 
the most common, as they are the must frequently seen- — 
The black wolves are large tnd ferocious animals. They 
sometimes mingle with a herd of bufEalos, and at first 
appear quite harmless, but when they find a young calf 
strayed from its dam, or an old cow on the brink of a preci- 
pice, they are sure to attack and kill the former, and to 
harass the latter till they succeed in pushing it down the 
precipice. The wolves arc very numerous in these 
regions — the pkins are full of holes, which are generally 
deep, and into which they retire when hunger does not 
compel them to prowl about, or when they arc pursued 
by the huntsman. Tliere is a small sized wolf, called the 
medicine wolf, regarded by the Indians as a sort of ^bni- 
lou. They watch its yelpbgs during the night, and the 
superstitious conjurers pretend to understand and [113] 
interpret them. According to the loudness, frequency^ 
and other modifications of these yelpings, they interpret 
that cither friends or foes approach the camp, &c., and 
if it happens that on some other occasion they conjecture 


Bar^ Wtsxfm Travels 


r^t, the prediction b never forgotten, asd the coojurers 
take care to mention it on ever)- emergency. 

There arc aW) four kinds of bears, d istinguishod hj the 
cx>bn: white, black, brown and grey. The white and 
grey bears are what the Hon is tn Asia, die kings of the 
moontatns: they arc scarcely inferior to the lion in form 
and courage. I have sometimes joined tn the chaBc of this 
animal, but I wa« b ji^ood company — safe from danger*** 
Four Indian hunters ran around the bear and stunned 
him vrith tbeir cries — they soon despatched him. In less 
tlian ^ ^juarter of an hour after Utis, anott»er fell beneath 
their bbm- This chase is perhaps the most dangerous; 
for the bear, when wounded, becomes furious, and unless 
he I>c diMhlfdf as was the case in the two instances men- 
tioned, he attacks and not imfrequendy kills his pursuers. 
Messrs. Lewis and Clarke, in their expedition to the sources 
of the Missouri, adduce a sinking proof of the physical 
strength of this animal, which !^ows that hr is a most 
formdable enemy. One evening, the men who were in 
the hindmost canoe, discovered a bear, crouched in the 
prairie^ at a distance of about three hundred >"ards from 
the river. Six of ihem, all skilful hunters, left the canoe, 
and advanced to attack him. Protected by a little emi- 
nence, they approached without being perceived, till they 
were but forty steps from the animal. Four of the men 
discharged their guns, and each one Icxiged a ball in his 
body ^ two of the balls had pierced the lungs. The bear^ 
fjuntic with rage, starts up and ni^cs upon his enemies, 
Willi wide extcndeil jaws. As he approached, the two 
hunters who had kept [124] theh- fire, inflicted two wounds 
on him; one of the balk broke his shoulder, which for a 
few momenta retarded his progress, but before they couU 
re-load their guns, he was so close upon them that they 
had to run with the greatest speed to the river. Here he 

1841-1843] De Smet's Letters and SkitcAes 


■was at the point of seizing them — two of the men threw 
themselves into the canoe, the four others scattered and 
hid themselves among the willows, where they loaded and 
fired with the greatest expeditioD. They wounded him 
several times, which only served to increase his fury; at 
last he pursued two of them so closely, that they were com- 
pelled to provide for their safety by leaping into the river 
from a perpendicular bank nearly twenty feet high. The 
bear followed them, and was but a few feet from them, 
when one of the hunters who had cotnc from his lurking 
place, sent a ball through his head and killed him. They 
dragged him to the shore, and there ascertained that not 
[ess than eight balls passed through his body.'" 
I remain, Rev. and dear Father Provincial, 
Yours, &c. 

P. J, De Suet, SJ- 


Hell Gate,*" aist Sept- 1841. 
Rcv» and Dear Father Provincial: 

It is on a journey through the desert that we sec how 
attentive Providence is to (he wants of man. I repeat 
with pleasure this remark of my young Protestant friend^ 
because the truth of it appears through the narrative which 

™ II i) now iccepttd Uml Ujcm *Fe bat \nt> spflcln ol bfjLTB la Ui« Uniltd 
StAtca; the bL&ck {ITrnu Qmtricanui)^ of which die cinnojnon bcAr i» ■ variety, 
HJvt Ifae giiizly {Uram htrttihitis). known u ibr whirr, ^icf. BTid brown brtf. 
Tb* q>iiodc hetr rtlalvd Irf D« Snul may be fmud Id Oripmai J^tirywll ffj 

*" Hetl Ghte i* the dc£te just ttat «f Uiw>uU, ManUna, od ft tiiwr of thftt 
aAmc. \t in tald to hMVc acnuiiel Ju i»»n« (Frrntli, ptrU tFtnfrr) hfxAViV lb« 
BIatUiwt *ci nftrn lay !□ walT aiaitg its rUfTt, inrl In pM< ihrougb vu u ilfinAff- 
01U ms tnttrin^ hell- In ihe early days <ti the lerritoiy there was « aettleineiit 
koowD oa HcLl Gate, tboiit five aiilet up tbc riveCt irvia ita moulb, — Ed. 


Effrjy fyesiem Travels 

[\^oK 7T 

I have cwmmenced, and will apprar slill more evidently 
in what is to follow. Were I to speak of rivers, the ac- 
count would be long and tedious^ for in &ve days w« 
crossed as many as eighteen, and crossed one of them five 
times in the spsice of a few hours. I shall only rienltOTi 
ihe most dun^erous among them. The first, which we 
found il very difficult to cross, was the South Fork of the 
Plalle. But as we had been long apprised of the diffi- 
culty, we took our precautionn before hand, and some of 
our Canadians had explored il with so much care, that 
wc forded it, not without great difficulty, but without any 
serious acddent. The greatest distress was felt by Ihe 
dogB of the caravan. Left on the bank, when all had 
crossed, nothing but fidelity towards their masters could 
have induced them to swim over a river but little less than 
a mile wide, and having so rapid a current that it would 
have carried away waRons and carts, had ihey not been 
supported on all sides, while the mules exerted all their 
strength to pull them onwaitl, Tlie poor dogs did not 
attempt lo cross (ill they found that there waf« no medium 
left between encountering the danger and [1^6] bang their 
masters. The passage over these rivers is generally 
effcclcd by meyns of h bull boat, the name given to a kind 
of boat, constructed on the spot with buffalo hides. They 
are indispensable when the currail is impetuous, and no 
ford can be found. Thanks to our Canadians, we wanted 
them neither on this nor any other occasion,"* 

The second difficult passage was over the North Fork, 
which is less wide^ but deeper and more rapid than the 
Southem. We had crossed the latter in carts. Having 
mustered a little more courage, we determined to cross 
the North Fork on horseback. We were induced to do 

>*" For IL lunher dacilpdon of ihne bqU-bana kc PUf ■rohimv olii. p. 979. 
EbOU 94&.— Ed. 

1841-1843] Df Smefs Letters and Sketches 


so, on seeing our hunter drive before him a horse on which 
his wife was mounted> whil*it al the same time he was pull- 
ing a colt that carried a little girl but one year old- To 
hold back under such circumstances would have been a 
disgrace for Indian Missionaries. Wc therefore resolved 
to go forward- It is said that we were observed to grow 
pale, and I am inclined to believe we did; yet, after our 
horses h&d for some time battled against the current, we 
reached the opposite shore in safety, though our clothes 
were dripping wet. Here we witnessed a scene, which, 
had it been less serious, might have excited laughter. The 
largest M'agon was carried off by the force of the current, 
in spite of sll the efforts, shouts and cries of the men, who 
did all they could to keep themselves from being drowned. 
Another wagon was literally turned over. One of the 
mules showed only his four feet on the surface of the watCTp 
and the others went adrift entangled in the gears. On one 
side appeared the American captain, with extended arms, 
crying for help. On the other, a young German trav- 
eller was seen diving with his beast, and soon after both 
appearing above water at a distance from each other. Here 
a horse reached the shore wlhoul a rider; further on, two 
[127] riders appeared on the same horse; finally, the good 
brother Joseph dancing up and down with his horse, and 
Father Men^^rini clinging to the neck of his, and look- 
ing as if he formed an indivisible part of the animal 
After all our difficulties, we found that only one of the 
mules was drowned^ As the mule belonged to a nun who 
had been the foremost in endeavoring to save both men 
ind horses, the members of the caravan agreed to make 
him a present of a horse, as a reward for his servict-s. Wc 
offered thanks to God for our escape from danger, I men- 
tioned before that great dangers awaited us on Snake 
river. This stream being much less deep and wide than 


Earfy H^t^jifrn Travfh 

the other two, and having such iimptd waters that the 
bottom can c\cTy where be seen, could only he danger- 
ous to incautious persons. It sudicod to keep oui eyes 
open, for any obstacle could ca^ly be distinguished and 
B-voidod. But whether it were owing to want of thought 
OT attention, or to the stubborn di^iosition of the team, 
Brother Charlef^ Huet found himself all at once on the 
bonier of a deep precipice, too far advanced to return. 
Down went nnules, driver and vehicle, and so deep was 
the place, llmt there scarcely appeared any chjLOce to save 
ihem. Our hunter, at the riik of his life, threw himself 
into the river, to dive after the poor brother, whom he had 
to pull out of the carriage. All the Flat Heads who were 
with us, tried to save the vehicle^ the mules and the bag* 
gage. The baggage, with the exception of a few articles^ 
was saved ; the carriage was raised by the united efforts 
of all the Indiana, zind set aRoat; but after this operation 
it was held by but one of them, he found that his strength 
was inadequate to the task, and crying that he was being 
drowned, let go his hold. I1ic hunter plunged in after 
him, and Aas himself at Ihe point of lo^g bis life, on 
account of the efforts [128] which the Indian made to 
save his own. Finally^ after prodigies of vabr, exhibited 
by all the Flat Heads, men, women and children, who all 
strove to give us a proof of iheir attachment, we lust what 
we considered the most safe, the team of the carriage. 
The gears had been cut to enable the mules to reach the 
shore, but it is said that these animals always perish when 
once they have had their ears under water. Thus we lojt 
our three finest mules. This loss was to us very consid- 
erable, and would have been irreparable, had it not been 
for the kindness of Captain Ermalinger. Whilst the peo- 
ple of the caravan were drying our baggage, I returned 
to the Fort, where the generous Captain repaired our loss 

1841184^1 De Smtt's Letters and Si^uhet 


for a sum truly inconsidemble, when compared with whai 
must be paid on such occa^ons to those who wi^ to avail 
themselves of the misforlunrs of otheri. We hnd escaped 
the dftnger, and ivere be^es taught a very useful lesson, 
for it was remarked that it was the first day since wc began 
our journey, on which, by reason of the bustle occ^oncd 
by our departure from the Foit, wc bad oniittcd to say 
the prayers of the itinerary. 

We had dangers of another description to encounter, 
from which we were also delivered by the aid of God's 
grace. Once as we travelled along the banks of (be 
Platte, several members of the caravan separated from 
the main body> contrary to the expressed orders of the 
Captain, who, together with Father Point and myself^ 
had started a little ahead to look out for a place of encamp- 
ment. We succeeded in finding a proper site, and we 
had already unsaddled our horses, when aU at once wc 
heard the alann cry; the Indians! the Indians! And 
in fact, a body of Indians, appearing much larger than it 
really was, was seen in the distance, first assembling 
together^ and then coming full [tjg] gallop towards our 
camp In the mean time a young American, unhur;^ 
and unarmed, makes his appearance, complabiing of the 
loss he had sustained^ and indignant at the blows he had 
received. He smes the loaded rifle of one of his 
friends, and rushes forward to lake ^gnal vengeance on 
the offender. The whole camp is roused; the Ameri- 
can youth is determined to tight; the Colonel orders the 
wagons to be Jrawn up in double file, and places between 
them whatever may be exposed to plunder. All prepara- 
tions are made for a regular defence. On the other 
hand, the Indian squadron, much incrcasod, advances and 
presents a formidable front- They manccuvre as if they 
intend to hem tn our phalanx, but at sight of our firm 


Earfy IVeitfm Travels 

[VoJ- .7 

position, and of the assurance of the Captain who ad\'anced 
towards them, they checked their march, finally halted, 
and none to sl fjctrley, of which the result was that 
they should r^um to the American wh^te\er they had 
taken from him, but that the blows which he had received 
ahoukl not be returned. After this* both parties united 
in smoking the calumet. This hand consisted of So Shcy- 
enne warriors, armed for battle. The Sheyennes are 
looked upon as the bravest Indians in the prairie. They 
followed our camp for two or three da>"s. As the chiefs 
were admitted to our meals, both parties separated with 
mutual satisfaction.*^ 

On another occasion we were in company vith the van- 
guard of the Flat Heads, and had petiettzled into an 
impsfisible defile between the mountains, so that after 
having travelled the whole day, we were forced to retrace 
our steps. At night the rumor was spread that a party 
of Banac Indians lay encamped in the nd^borhood "* 
The Banacs had this very year killed several white men ; 
but it soon appeared that they were more frightened than 
ourselves, for before day break they had removed from 
the place, 

[130] Without being aware of it, we had escaped a much 
greater danger on the banks of Green River. Wc did 
not know the particulars of this danger tilt after we had 
arrived at Fori Hall. There we heard that ahnost imme- 
diately after our separation from the travellers who were 
on their way to California, and with whom wo had till 

^Compare Biclvidl'j uxount In Ccititrf Maiatimt ait^ p- 1(6^ Acci^nllng 
10 hk rvpon, H wn » it»r pirty of bul foiTj' wrll-niounred ChrycnDF^ Thr young 
American tud bwii undul/ racitrd Sv their ipp^tuncc, arirl wm thprraijer kmvwn 
M Chtffttxtie Dftvrv^n. ILi bAptiKUAl nunc wm J^ffica, Re4(binf: C'tifN>mJa 
•lib U>e BWiwU pvty, he wn Uier drtnmui tn CalumhU Rivpt.^ £u 

'^ Pot tbe Battotxk Lidum k TuwucuiJ's S^arrative, la oui wtumc kd. 
p, 199, not* 4t, — Kd- 

ii4t'iS4a] De Smrt'j Leturs end SAetches 279 

then lived as brothers, they divided ihemseKes into two 
bands, and each bond again subdivided into two 
parties^ one to attend to the chase, the other to guard the 
horses. The hunter's camp was guarded only by five or 
SUE men and some women, who had also to keep watch 
over the horses and baggage of the others. A booty so 
rich and so much eicposed could not but tempt the Indians 
^ho roamed in the netghboHioodi and watted, as U their 
custom, till a seasonable opportunity should offer to com- 
mence the attack. When least expected » they fell first 
upon the horses, and then upon the tents, and though the 
guardians made a courageous defence^ and sold their lives 
dearly, yet they burned and pillaged the camp, taking 
away whatever might be serviceable to them; thus giv- 
ing a terrible lesson to such as expose themselves to lose 
all, by not remaining united to withstand the common 

But a few days after we had received this sad intelli- 
gence we ourselves were much alarmed. We apprehen- 
ded le£t we should have to defend our lives against a 
large body of Black Feet Indians^ whose warriors contin- 
ually infest the country through which we were then trav- 
elling. It was reported that they were behind the moun- 
tain, and soon [131] after that they were in si^t. But 
our brave Indians, glowing with the desire to intro- 
duce us to their tribe, were uncounted, and would have 
attacked them, had they been a hundred times more 
numerous^ PJIchimo, bmndishing his musket in the air» 
started oH with the greatest rapidity, and vv-as followed 
by three or four others. They crossed the mountain and 

wc h«d «l4itc<I toKrilicr It itru suppovd by iriAny tlul wr; hid not ^1 ACpUAlt^ 
whf n this iiTifort«n*!t irddent tank pUc*. Kence it ww dmiUuvl Ir th* Uollwl 
States. And cv«D in *oma parte of Europe, tbal Uu C&tlulic IrUuioiufiDt lu4 
aU b«D kiUcd by the Indians, — DtSun- 

Edf^ ^TtMttFW SfWPtMt 


wen ntruinh wtio had uuiteu wlhci villi & ouDd bo nj 
das to 2tuck OL Among thexa vu a dncf, wlio dsMrad 
Ikr iMi faivoUe dhpowciw I tad m k^ ootfv- 
CMC vvB HD OB ihfr uofect cf m||^qb^ isd te pfonfiaed 

out DC wocdd utt ul his CDdciMiB lo cs^p cift iDcn to 
adopC rttjgjoiw imtifnento. Roth he and ha rtdinue Wl 
a> dm day after d» arrival of the Flat Beid% who cwae 
to irab OS joy for ihe happy issae <A oar long jcnbh^, 
Wc here remarked how the power of reason acts tipoti tb£ 
heart of the mragt. The Baoac chief was brother id 
ao Indian of the tribe who had beec kdlled by one of the 
Flat Head chiefs pftacnt on this occasuXL They sahriod 
each other in oar prrstnce and separated as truly Chri^ 
tiaji warriors would have done, who diovr eamby to each 
oOer only on the fieU of battle. Yet as the Fht Heads 
had more than once, been baaely betrayed by the Daoaca, 
the fonner dU not offer to nnoke the calumet, I hope 
that we shall have oo difficuhy to briog on a reconciUa- 
bon. The Flat Heads will undoubtedly follow the advice 
we shall give thtm, arul I fed confident that the Banacs 
wiD be ntLsiicd with (he conditioos- 
I have the honor to be 

Kev. and dear Father Provincial, 
Your devoted servant and son, 

P. J, Ds Smct, SJ- 


iS4i'i84»] -£V Smefs Letters and Sketches 



St. Mary's, 18th October, 1841, 
Rev. and Dear Father: 

Aftek a journey of four months and a half on horse- 
back through the desert, and in spite of our actual want 
of bread, wine, sugar, fruit, and all Mjch things as rire 
called the conveniences of life, we find our strength aiKl 
courage increased, and are better prepared than ever to 
work a! the conversion of the souk that Providence en- 
trusts to our care. Next to the Author of all good things, 
we returned thanks to her whom the church reveres as the 
Mother of her Divine Spouse, since it has pleased the 
Divine goodness to send us the greate&t consolations on 
several days consecrated to her honor. On the feast of 
her glorious Assumption we met the vanguard of our dear 
neophytes. On the Sunday within the Octave, we, for 
Ihc first time since my return, cejcbmted the Holy Mys- 
teries among them. On the following Sunday our good 
Indians placed themselves and their children under the 
Immaculate Heart of Mary, of which we then celebrated 
the feast. This act of devotion was renewed by the great 
chief in the name of his whole tribe, on the feast of her 
Holy Name. On the 3+th of September, the feast of our 
Lady of Mercy, we arrived at the river called Bitter Root, 
on the bonks of which we have chosen the ^te for our 
principal missionary station,"* On the first Sunday of 

"■The Bitterrool River rii«s ia two larka in \ht miiri ch*ift of fh* RockJei, 
on Utc nortbcru stopr dF the dl-^dc bdwtrn MonUnA amf IiUhif, atuI tlntit Almc«t 
ftipfttly nmh through tt hp*uiifiil, fmilr vsllry. unti^ M Fnrt Miwnula ix i»nitr* 
vith tht Uell Gat* to iorm MiuouU Rivvr, lliv oaire is derived from (he plant 
i^uifjHj ftiiMivik (Ficncb. rytin* um^}, whinh nas occiiionally us«l by U« In- 
diiQi u tcM. The nune Si- hCtr^'a Rivpr, Asalgnrd by Vtxhrt 4e Smtt. !■ 
frtqutntljr found on early nupc-^ Ev. 



EttHy iVtsum Trav<it 


October, feast of the Ro^airy, we took po»es»on of the 
promiiied land, by pUnting a cross on the s{)ot whfch [133] 
we had chosen for our first residence. What motives 
of encouragement docs not the Gospel of the present Sun- 
day add to all these mentioned before. To-day too we 
cdcbiBtr thi? Divine Matt-mih% and what may we Dot 
«cpea from the Virgin Mother who brought forth her 
Son for the salvation of the world. On the feast of her 
P&tronAge we shaQ offer by her mediation I0 her DiWne 
Son^ twenly-five young Indians, who are to be baptized on 
that day. So many favors have induced us unanimously 
to proclaim Mary the protectress of our miasiour and give ^ 
her name to our new residence.'** ^H 

These remarks may appear silly to such as attribute " 
every thing to chance or nccesaity, but to such as believe 
in the wise dispensations of the Providence of God, by 
which all things arc governed and directed, all these dr- 
cumstances, together with the wonderful manner in which 
we have been called, sent and led to this new mission; 
and still more the good dispositions manifested by the 
Indians, will appt^r very proper motives to inspire as 
with fresh courage, and with ibe hope of establishing 
here, on u small scale, the order and regularity which once 
distinguished our missions in Paraguay. ITiis hope 13 
not founded on imagination, for whUst I am writing 
these lines, I hear the joyful voices of the carpenters, re* S 
echoing to the blows on the smith's an%nl, and I sec them 
engagexl in raiding the k<ms€ oj prayer. Besides, three 
Indians, belonging to the tribe caUed Pointed Hearts,**" 

^ Thf die of St, Mary'i niiakia wu od the n*t Ijunlt uf (lie BlLtrrrwt, vtioM 

eightwn miW ■hnwp lu mnuth, nw* niH fnrt i >w^n *nd i\v mnrfrm StrwEwrfllft, 
For the furt^r hblory of ^I- Mvy't rruwlon >e« PftUkdinoi Iif^ian ami IPM* 4m 

''Tbr Citut fVAUnr UwUhcAited) Indiuii mn k branch of the 'lalhhaii 
Umi\j. w^«r rrllnl nimr in Skiuaith (Lfwl« ^nd Ctark. SkcFUrindth). ICuij 

iS4i-i84*I De Smtt's Letters and Sketches 283 

having been informed of our arrival among the Fbt 
Heads, have just come lo enlrcal us to have pily on them. 
" Father/' said uni- of ihtm to nie, '' we are truly deserv- 
ing your pily. We wish to serve the Great Spirit, but we 
know not how. We want some one to leach us. For 
this reason we make apph'cation to you." O had some 
of my brethren, now so far distant from us, been present 
here last Sunday, when towards night we raised the 
[134] august sign of salvation, the standard of the cross, 
in this small but /.ealoiJ8 tribe; how their hc^irts would 
have been moved on seeing the pious joy of these children 
of the forest! What sentiments of faith and love did they 
exhibit on this occasion, when headed by their chief, they 
came to kiss the foot of the crojis, and then prostrate on 
their knees, made a sacred promise, rather to suffer death 
a thousand times, than to forsake the religion of Jesus 
Christ! Who knows how many of this chosen band may 
be destined lo become apostles and martyrs of our holy 
religion] Were we more numerous, I feel con&dent thai 
many other tribes wouki become members of the king- 
dom of God; perhaps more than two hundred thousand 
might be convened to Christ."' The Flat Heads and the 
Pointed Hearts, it is true are not numerous tribes, but 
they are surrounded by many others who evince the best 
dispositions. The Ponderas or Pends-d'oreilles are very 
numerous, and live at a distance of four or five days jour- 

jnauihtntkat*d tr»diriorii »rr ftfliwn io fff(tar<3 l4> Ihc oriRin of thi» Urm. which 
tccmi ti> be blUcd to nunc fonn of pAraEciLon) . The liAbitAL of this iribcj iV4r the 
Ukr M thai niTTt In nonhrm liUhn, Ei itlll the scfti of their raenatlon. which 
wBj Ml off in iSt^i but noE occupcd until iiftDr the trcjU;r o1 \^yy Thfi trlbAl 
popuLaajn hu bwD ■Inkat aUtioovj ^ncc fini known, uufnbeiitiji norlj' five 
bufutrpft. Thpir lAfifLiAgr It r^itt ifmiliir to \tc Spnlun. Thrr Ctxur d'Alfrnr 
flR *grkuLti.kriatJ!, wt^r rivUUcd drew* ^nd fcre now reccLving ihcir landj by ftUol- 
bwdL — EDp 

*** ThU wu the c>limat«l number of lEuluas under JetuJI uoirol tn Pen- 
Kni|r» Bl the ticno u( itmtCBt \ftv^te^j^" Ed* 



B^rfy Westtrn Traixh 

[\'ol. 17 

oey from our present cstabUshroeot. The diief who gov- 
en»d them last ye&r and who has b«xn haptij:cd and caUed 
PMct. is a trur ajRSlli-.^" In my first \Tsil to them I 
baptiied two hundred and fifty of their chiklreQ. Manjr 
odscr tribes have the lame origin, and though differing 
m name, their bnguagei are dcvIj- allied. Next ro tbe« 
are found the Spfjcana,^ vho woold soon follow the ex- 
ample of the oci^boring tribes; the Pierced Noses, who 
are disgusted at the conduct of tbc Protcstatit ministers 
that have srttlcd among them; tbc Snakes, the Crows 
and the Banacs whose chiirf we have seen. Xast year I 
visited the Sheyennes, whom I twice met on the banks of 
tbc Platte; the numerous nation of the Scioux, and the 
three allied tribes railed M^ndaos, Arickarp^s and Min- 
atarees, who all have given me 9d many pnxtfs of re^sect 
and friendship; the Omahas, with whom I have had so 
many conferences on [135] tbc subject of religion, and 
manv othrrs who stt?m inclined to embrace the truth. 

The Black Feel are the only Indbns of whose salva- 
tion we would have reason to despair, if the ways of God 
were the same as those of man, for they are murderers, 
thieve*^ Irailors, ami all that is wicked. But were not the 
CbiqiiitDS, the Chiriquans^"* tlu- Hurons, and the Imquuts 
equally wicked before their conversion, which required 
much time and great help from above P And is it not to 
the last, thai, under CJod, the Flat Heads owe their desire 
of becoming members of his church, and the first genna 
of the copious fruit that has been produced among them? 

"TUi Prod d'OrdUe's tutivc name vu Clulaji, adiI he Uwid l» h4tv ticcn 
twfDrc hli bapdim m fMnii>ut mvlidnr mun^ — P-p, 

•• For Uw Spokaa kk Ff»i»W«"i N^dnaiiw, La oui TdluDC ft, p^ i*i, Rout 
■4^. — Ed, 

"* Tvo South AmFFluD cribn of CMttrn Bolivt*. irilo 1ofi( rt^lrd Ihc Span* 

Tubt|pialai«9E^ lheyi«tTg«llLered into 1*0 WU»4[oi,»fide»4U3'dvilii»d-— E». 


1841-184^1 Dc Smcf: Letters and Situhes 


What is more, the Black Feet are not hostile to Black 
Gowns. Wc have be^n assured by other Indians that vrc 
Mvuuld have nothing to fear, if we pre^nted ourselves 
amongst them as ministers of religion. When last year 
1 fell inlo the hands of one of their divi^ons, and it was 
ascertainftl thai I was an interpreter of the Great Spirit, 
they carried me in triumph on a buSalo robe to their vilbge, 
and invited me to a banquet, at %vhich alt the great men 
of the tribe assisted. It was on this occasion, that, whilst 
I &aid grace, I Was astonished lo see that they stmck the 
earth with one hand and ra.i£ed the other towards heaven, 
to signify that the earth produces nothing but evil, n-bilst 
all that is good comes from above. From all this you 
will easily conclude that the harvest is great, whilst the 
laborers are few. 

It is the opinion of the Missionaries who accompany 
me. and of the travellers I have seen in the Far West, in 
short, of all those who have become acquainted with the 
Flat Heads, that they are characterised by the greatest 
simphcity^ docility and uprightness. Yet, to the ^mplic- 
ity of children is joined the courage of heroes. They 
never begin the attack, but wo to such as provoke them 
or treat [156] them unjustly. A handful of their warriors 
will not shrink from an enemy twenty times more numer- 
ous tlian they; they will stand and repel the assault, and 
at last put them to dif^ht, and make them repent their 
rashness* Not long before my first arrival among them, 
seventy men of the tribe, finding themselves forced to 
come bo an engagement with a thousand Black Feet 
warriors, determined lo sustain the attack, and rather to 
die than retreat. Before the engagement they prostrated 
themselves and addressed such prayers as they had learned 
to the Great Spirit. They rose full of courage, sustained 
the first shocks and soon rendered the victory doubtfuL 


B^fy ft^atem Ttwods 


■KKCMve «b)«i ta at kM Ike Bbdc Feet, »^n.»Ai>^ ^1 

OK DqUmV of OKV Satl^DHHtS. "Q^ pUDC BUULL, AOd 

rvtmted &«m ifae aocae of action, kanof; mui^ kiOed 
and wooDded oo tbc &dd of battk. wfaibt not ooc w&xriar 
<!< tbe Fkt Heads was kakd But ow died of cbe wmis 
ht Ind rtccrrcd, aad hb death hippcoed fevooU mooCfaf 
after ihe ca^feneM^OQ Ac day t wcpB adJa g bii bapcitfi— 
(Aoagta the potnt of an arrow hid pierced ha ikuH) 
It was oo the mme occaakm that PflcMm^ whooi 1 hait^ 
alnadj ntcDtimed. gave RntarfcaUe pnxifa of valor and 
attadiinent to bts Mloir wamofs. All the horses were 
on the point of falliog into the t3txxKf% hand, Pilchinio 
waaoo foot. Not far off was a squaw on bonefaack: to see 
the daofitT, to lake the squaw from her horse and mount 
it biniBclf, to gallop to the other bones, aod bring them 
to^tther, and drive them bto tbc camp, was the affair of 
a Urm ndtiutrt. Another warrior, named Sechetmeld, saw 
a Black Foot sepaimled from his company, and aimed with 
a musket.'** The Black Foot, taking the warrior for one 
of bis own tribCf asked tbc Flat Head to let him mount 
behind him. The btter wishing to [137} make himself 
Baiter of the musket, agreed to the proposal. They 
advance on the plain, till SccbdmcU seeing that the place 
bvored bis design, bcutk bis fellow rider's weapon, 
exclaiming; "Black Foot! I am a Flat Head, let go your 
musket/' He wrests it from his hands, despatches htm, 
remounts the horse, and galk^ps oil in pursuit of the enemy. 
The fcJlowing frat er^ually deserves to he recorded: A 
Black Foot warrior was taken and wounded whilst in the 
act of ftralirg a horse. The night was dark and the wound 
hid rendered him furious. He hckl his loaded gun, and 

■* BsfullBCd ■« AmbroHv ud om <if t^ mott Uilbful ce&wti. Hf «m 
Uvldg la iflfQ> Sec CKiucndcn «nd Rith&rdBao, Xh Smtt. indn. — £fK 

i84i-i»#al De Sm^fs Letttrs and Sketches 


threatened death to any one diat should approach him. 
Peter, one of the chiefs already mentioned, though diminu- 
live in size, and far advanced in years, felt his cxiurage 
revived^ he nms up to the enemy, and with one blow fells 
him to the ground. This done he throws himself on hts 
knees, and raising his eyes towards heaven, he is reported 
to have said: *' Great Spirit! thou knowest th^t I did 
not kill this Black Foot from a desire of revenge, but 
because I was forced lo it; be merciful to him in the other 
world. I forgive him from the bottom of my heart all the 
evQs which he has wished to inflict upon us, and to prove 
the sincerity of my words I will cover him with my gar- 
ments." This Peter was baptized last year, and became 
the apostle of his tribe. Even before baptism, his simplic- 
ity and sincerity prompted him to give this testimony of 
himself; *'If ever 1 have done e\il it was through igno- 
lanct, (or I have always done what I considered good." 
It would be tedious to pive an account of his zealous 
endeavors. Every morning, at an early hour, he rides 
through the whole village, stops at every hut, speaks a few 
woids of encouragement and reproof^ as circumstances 
require, and exhorts all to be faithful in the performance 
of their religious and social duties. 

[138] I have ^ken of the simph'city and the courage 
of the Flat He^s; I shall some other remarks coo- 
ccming their character. They little resemble the major- 
ity of the Indians, who are, generally speaking, uncouth^ 
importunate, improvident, insolent, stubborn and cnicl.^ 
The Flat Heads are disinterested, generous, devoted to 
their brethren and friends; irreproachable, and even 
cxcmpkry. as regards probity and morality. Among 
them^ dissensions, quarrels, injuries and enmities are 
tinknown. Durinj; my stay in the tribe last year, I have 
never remarked any thing that was contrary to modesty 


Earfy tytstrm Traveis 


and decorum in the manDers and convnersatioti of the men 
and women. It is true that the children, whilst very >Tning, 
arc entirely without covering, but thb is a general custom 
among the Intjiaius and ^ccnus to have no bni] effect upon 
tbem; we are detennined, however, to atxdish this custom 
as soon as wc shall be able to do it< With respect to reli- 
gion, the Flat Heads arc distinguished by the firmness of 
their faith, and the andur of thnr zea.\. Not a vestige o( 
Aeir former superstitions can be discovered. Their con- 
fidence in us is unlimited- They belio'e without any diffi- 
culty the most profound mysteries of our holy religion, as 
soon as they are proposed (o ihem, and they do noi even 
suspea that we might be deceived, or even could wish to 
deceive tbcm. I have already mentioned irtiat exertions 
they have made to obtain BlacW-gowns for their tribe; the 
journeys, undertakings, the dangers incurred, the mis- 
foTtimes suffered to attain thdr object. Their conduct 
during my absence from them has been truly regular and 
rditying. They attmd divine service with the grratcst 
punctuality^ and pay the most e^ous attention to the 
explanation of the Catechism. Wliat modesty and fervent 
piety do they not cxhilnt in [139J their prayers, and >vitb 
wluit humble simplicity they speak of their former blind- 
ness^ and of such things as tend to reflect honor upon 
their present conduct. On this last subject their simplicity 
14 truly admirable: "Father," some will say, with down 
cast eyes, "what I leD you now I have never mertioned 
to any one, nor shall I ever mention it to others; and if I 
^Kak of it to you, it is because you wish and have a 
right to know it." 

The chiefs, who might be more properly called the 
fathers of the Iribe^ having only to express their will, and 
art obeyed, arc always listened to, and arc not less remark- 
able for their dodlity in our regard than for the ascciHlancy 

841-1^42) De Snufi LetUrs and Sketches 


they possess over their people. The most iuBucntial 
among them, sumamcd "The Little Chief," from the 
smallness of bis staturct whether considered as a christian 
or a wanior, might stand a comparison with the most rt- 
noiATicd character of ancient chivalry,'" On one occasion^ 
he sustained the ussaiills of a whole village, which, con- 
trary to all justice, attacked hts people. On another occa- 
sion, when the Bajiacs had been guilty of the blackest 
treason, he marched against them with a party of warriors 
not one-tenth the number of their aggressors. But, under 
such a leader, his little band believed themselves invincible, 
and invoking the protection of heaven, rushed upon the 
enemy, and look sigmil vengeance of the Irailors, killing 
nine of their number. More would have been killed, 
had not the voice of Little Chief arrested them in the very 
heat of the pursuit, announcing thai it was the Sabbath, 
and the hour of prayer. Upon this signal, they gave 
over the pursuit, and returned to their camp. Arrived 
there, they immediately, without thinking of dreeing 
their wounds, fell upon their knees in the dust, (o render 
to the Lord of Hosts the honor of the victory. Little 
Chief had received a ball I140I through the right hand, 
which had entirely deprived him of its use; but seeing 
two of his comrades more severely wounded than him- 
self, he with his other hand rendered them every succor 
in his power, remaining the whole night in attendance 
upon them. On several other occasions, he acted with 
equal courage, prudence and humanity, so that hxs reputa- 
tion became widely spread. The Nez-perces, a nation far 
more numerous than the Flat Heads, came to offer him 
the dignity of being their Great Chief. He might liavc 
accepted it without detriment to the rights of any one, 
as every Indian is free to leave his chief, and phce him- 

^i' AoDlhcT liilc for MEchAol, oi laavla; kc dnlr, |). 147, ootc xy — Ec. 



Earfy Weit^m Travils 

[Vol- a? 

sdf und^ any oiher head he may think proper, aiuj, of 
course, to accept any higher grade that may be offered 
to hint But Little Chief, contenl ^ith the post asstgrncd 
hiiD by Providence, refused the oBer, bow'cver boDOrablc 
to him, with this simpk remark, "By the wil) of tfac Great 
blaster of life I was bom among the Flat Heads, and if 
such be His will, among the Flat Heads I am detennxned 
to die;" — a |nlr>fitic feeling. Highly honorable to him. 
As a warrior, stiD more honorable to his character are 
the mildness and humility manifested by htm. He said 
to me, once: "Till we came to know the true God, alas* 
bow Uindfd wctt we \ We pruyed, it is true — but to 
whom did we address our pra>^eTS ? In truth, I know 
not bow the Great Spirit could have borne with us so long/' 
At present his seal is most exemplary; not content with 
bring the foremost id all the oCTices at cbapej, he is always 
the first and last at the hmily prayers^ and even before 
break of day he is heard singing the praises of his Maker. 
His characteristic trait is miklness: and yet he can assume 
due firmness, not to say severity of manner, when he sees 
it neces^ry to exerdse more rigorous discipline. Some 
dajrs before our arri^-al one of the young (141I women 
bad absented herself from jnayer, without a sufficient 
reason. He sent for her, and after reading her a lecture 
before aD the household, enforced his motires for greater 
attentioD in future* by a smart application of the cane. 
And how did the young ofiesder receive the correction? 
With the most humble and praiseworthy submisskw. 

The Flat Heads are ford of praj^. After the regular 
evening prayer, they will assemble in their tents to pvmj 
or smg ****rifW- These pious exercises will frequently 
be pfolo pg cJ tOI a late hour; and if any wake during the 
night, they begin to pray. Before making his prayer, the 
good okl Simeon gets up and lakes out the live coals upon 

iS4i-ifl4'] De Smrt'j Letters and Sketches 


hia hearth, am] when his prayer b done, which is always 
preceded and followed hy the sign of the cross, he smokes 
his catumrt snd then turns in again. This he will do three 
or four times during the night. There was a time, also, 
whco these more watchful spirits of the household, not 
content with praying themselves, would awaken the sleep- 
ers, anxious to make them partakers ol the good work, 
— These pious excesses had sprung from a little piece 
of advice I had given them on my first visit, that "on wak- 
ing at night it was commendable lo raise the heart to God." 
It has ance been explained lo them bow they are to under- 
stand the advice- This night, between the asth and 36th, 
the prayers and canticles have not ceased. Yesleniay, 
a young woman having died who had received baptism 
four days previously, we recommended them lo pray for 
the repose of her soul. Her remains were deposited at 
the foot of the Calvary, erected in the midst of the c^mp. 
On the cross upon her grave might confidently be inscribed 
the words: In spent Resurrectionis — In hope of a glorious 
Resurrection. We shall shortly have to celebrate the 
commemoration [143] of the faithful departed; this will 
afford us an opportunity of establishing the very christian 
and standing custom of pra>iiig for the dead in their place 
of interment. 

Oti Sundays, the exercises of devotion are longer and 
more numerous, and yet they are never fatigued with the 
pious duty> They feel that the happiness of the little 
and of the humble is to speak ^ilh their Heavenly Father, 
and thai no house presents so many attractions as the 
house of the Lord. Indeed, so rcUgiously is the Simday 
observed here, that on this day of rest, even before our 
coming, the most timorous derr might wander unmolested 
in the midsi of the tribe, even ihough they were reduced 
by want of provisions to the most rigorous fast. For, in 




i84I'i84j1 De Smefs Letters and Sketches 


indeed one of the most serious ihat could happai to an 
Indian — the loss of three caluniets at the simc time. 
He spent no time in reiradng his steps, and to interest 
heaven in his (avor, he put up the foUowng prayer: "Oh 
Great Spirit, you who sec all things and undo ail things, 
grant, 1 entreat you, that I may find what I am looking 
for; and yet let thy will be done," This prayer should 
have been addressed to Cod. He did not find the calumets, 
but in their place he received what was of more incompa- 
rable vElue — simplicity, piety, wisdom, patience, courage, 
and cool intrepidity in the hour of danger. More favored 
in one respect than Moses, this new guide of another people 
to God, after a longer sojournment in the wildeme?«, 
was at length successful tn introducing his children into 
the land of promise. He wos the first of his tribe who 
received baptism, and took the name of Paul, and like 
his patron, the great Apostle, he l^s Libored asaiduous^ly 
to gain over his numerous children to the friendship and 
love of his Lord and Master. 

I remain, Rev, Father Provincial, 
Yours, &c. 

P. }. De Suet, S J, 


St Mary's, Rocky Mountains, a6lh Oct 184a/" 
Rev. and Dear Father Ptovindal: 

The last letter will contain the practical conclusions 
of what has been stated in the preceding. I am confi- 
dent that these conclusions will be very agreeable and 
coDSolizig to all persons who feel interested in the progress 
of our holy religion, and who very prudently refuse to form 

'" The cooieat prore* ihJs iQ be a miiprim for liii. — Ed. 


Earfy ff^istem Travels 



a decided opinion, unless tbc^ can found it on wtU attest 

From whal has hilh«rrto bctm sid, wc may draw Ihij 
coodtieion, that the nation of the Flat Heads appear to be 
a chosen people — ''the eject o( God;" that it would be 
easy to make this tribe a model for other tribes,— the 
s«i] of two hundmj thousand chri^lians^ nvlio would be 
aa fervent as were the converted Indians of Paraguay; 
and that the conversion of the former would be efiected 
with more facility than that of the latter. The Flat Heada 
have no communiration with corrupt tribes; ihey hold 
aU sects in aversion; they have a horror of idolatry; they 
cherish much sympathy for the whites, but chiefly for the n 
Black GoA-ns, (Catholic Priests) a name, which, in conse-B^ 
quence of the pnrposwsaons and favorable impressions, 
which they have received from the Iroquois, is s)'nony- 
mouswitb goodness, learning, and Catholicity. Their posi- 
lion is central. — Their territory sufficiently extensive lo 
contain fieveral missions; the land is fertile, the country 
surrounded by [145] high mountainsp They are inde- 
pendent of aU authority except thit of God, and tho&e 
who represent him. They luive no tribute to ptiy but that 
of prayer; they have already acquired practical experi* 
ence of the advantages of a civilized over a barbarous state 
of life; and in iine, they arc fully convinced and firmly 
persuaded that without the religion that is announced to 
them, they can be happy neither in this world nor in th« 

From all these considerations, we may again draw the 
conclusions, that the best end which wtr can propose to 
ourselves is that which our Fathers of Parap^iay had in 
view when they commenced their missionar>- labors; and 
that the means to attain this end should be the Aame, 
chiefly because these means have been approved by the 

t&4i'>S4Jl De Staff's Letters and Sketches 295 

mosi respectable authorities, crowned with perfect success, 
and admired even by the enemies of our religion. 

The principle being admitted, it only remains to form 
a correct idea of the method employed by our Fathci^ in 
Paraguay lo improve the minds and hearts of their Neo- 
phytes^ and to bring them to that degree ot perfection of 
which they conceived them susceptible. After having 
seriously reflected on wKal Muratori relates of the cstab- 
Ijghmfnt^ in Paraguay, we have concluded that the 
following points should be laid down, as rules lo direct 
the conduct of our converts 

1. With regard k> God. — Simple, firm^ and livtly faith 
with respect to all the truths of religion, and chiefly such 
as are to be believed as Theologians express it, necessi- 
tate medii el neccssiUtk pr^ctpti. Profound respect for 
the only true reiigion; perfect submission to (he church 
of God, in all that regards faith and morality, discipline, 
&€. Tender and solid piety towards the Blessed Virgin 
(146] and the Saints. Desire of the conversion of others. 
Courage and fortitude of the Martyrs. 

2. With regard lo our neighbor, — Respect for those in 
authority, for parents, the aged, &c. Justice, charity, and 
generosity towards alL 

3. With regard lo one's selj. — Humility, modesty, meek- 
ness, discretion^ temperancCf irreproachable behavior, indus- 
try or love of labor, &c. 

We shall strenuously r«x)Oiniend the desire of the con- 
version of others^ because Piroridence seems lo have great 
designs with respect to our small tribe> In one of our 
iDstnictions given in a little chapel, constructed of boughs, 
not less than twenty-four nations were represented, in- 
cluding ourselves. Next, the courage and fortitude of the 
Martyrs, because in the neighborhood of the Black Feet 
there is continual danger of losing either the life of the soul, 



Ear/y tVestfm Traw/j 

(VoJ. 17 

or thjtt of the body. Also, industry or the love of labor, 
bccau*»e idleness i^ the pr«<]ominatDt vice of Indians; and 
even the Flat Heads, if they ure not addicted to idleness, 
at least, manifest a striking inaptitude to m&nuAl labor, 
and it will be absolutely necessary to conquer this. — To 
ensure success, much time and patience will be required. 
Finally and chiefly, profound respect for the true religion, 
to countcmct the manoeuvres of various sectaries, who, 
desiioiis as it would scrm, to wipe away the reproach 
fbnnerly made by Muratori, and in our days by the 
celebrated Dr. Wiseman,"* use all their efforts to make 
proselytes, and to appear disinterested, ajid c\'cn zealous 
in the propngalion of Iheir errors. 

4, With regard to tht mfflwf,— Flight from all contami- 
nating influence; not only from the corruption of the age, 
but from what the gospel calls the world. Caution against 
[147] all immediate intercourse with the whites, even with 
the workmen, whom necessity compels us to employ, for 
though these arc not wicked, still they are far from pos- 
sessing the qualities necessary to serve as models to men 
who are humble enough to think they are more or less per- 
fect, In proportion as their conduct corresponds with that 
of the whites. We shall confine them to the knowledge of 
their own language, erect schools among them, and teach 
them readings writing, arithmetic and ringing. Should 
any exception be made to thig general rule, it will be in 
favor of a small number, and only when their good dispoa- 
tions will induce us to hope that we may employ them as 
auxiliaries in religion. A more extensive course of instruc* 

^ NkhnUa Pfitnck Si^ti^o WUeman (i8o9-65>, horr in S«viltv ol Lriih pflnmu, 
wu EadLicted into holy arden «t Ronu In 1814. Uc «u ■ DoLed tcKalar wid coii' 
iTOveivxIUl. vrrll known lo the KncUsli.«|ic*kin]( worLl, tavl lIubcIt lULinoctcd 
wfTh the Orfcrd mdvan«nf. In fS^S he wu mhlt i:ulina1-4ri:hbuhop of WmI- 
miaatcfi whcnupoa he iuurd an Appeal h R9tmn and Good /'Mli*j[,*which won 
biro nmtij hknd* among Ihe EnijlUh ponplc, — Ed. 


ta4>-i<43) ZV Strufs Lituri and Sketches 297 

tion would undoubtEdly prove prejodicial to these good 
Indians, who^se simplicity is such that they might easUy 
be imposed upon, if they were to come in contact with 
errorj whilst it is the source of all truth and virtue when 
enlightened by the flambeau of faith. La H&rpe him- 
self, speaking of the Apostohc laborers of our society, says 
thai the perfecliun of our ministry consists in iliumining 
by faith the ignorance of the s&vage.^ 

To facilitate the attainment of the end in view, we have 
chosen the place of the first missionary station, formed the 
plan of the village, made a division of the lands, determined 
the form of the various buildings, &c. The buildings 
deemed most necessary and useful at present arc, a 
church, schools, work houses, store bouses, &c. Next, 
we have made regulations respecting public worship, reli- 
gious exerciseSf instructions, catechisms, confraternities^ 
the administration of the Sacminents. singing, music, &c. 
All this is to be executed in conformity with the pkn for- 
merly adopted in the Missions of Paraguay, 

Such are the resolutions which we have adopted, and 
[148J which wc submit to be approved, amended or modi* 
6ed, by those who have the greater glory of God at heart, 
and who, by their position and the graces of their state of 
life, arc designed by the Most High to communicate to us 
the true spirit of our Society. 
Believe me to be, 

Rev. and dear Father Provincial, 

Your devoted son in Christ, 

P. J. De Smet, S.J. 

'^^ Fn>babty Jcaa Febii^l>U dc La Haipc (i^.i^iSoj). ■ FVench oilk lod 
■atirul, who fn^m being a Vnltiimn becwnc %n ardenE CbhsllAti in the Ulfcr ynn 

erf hii life — Ed. 



E^ Wexterm Trmjdi 



St Uu^s^ Dmmbcr— , 1841. 
Rcfofsd Fuller: 

I IBALL here ghv 70Q the nmuks aod ohficrntioos I have 

mdc^ lad Ifae infomadoa I have ^tbcred. dving tfats last 
jourai^, coo c t mi og wtaei c m tom * and [jnctkcs of thr 

In speiknig of the Biiimals, I loqiitRd of servo Flu fle«d^ 
1A0 were present, bow many cxnrs thcjr had kQU between 
ibem in their bst biml ? Thr Dumber amounted to one 
hundred and «if:;iitr'ntne — one &]one had kiUcd ^fty-oine. 
One of the Flat K«adi tf^ mc of three remarkable kUs 
which had distinguishfd him tn thai cha^. Be poraied a 
COWr ^nned roerHj with a stone, and kiUed bet b^ stnkiag 
bcr while mnnlDg, between the horns; be aftenrards kiled 
aaeoood with hb knife; and finished htsexidoits brspctr^ 
b^aodsliuigliBgabrgeoi- The young wamofsfreqw cn lly 
exerdse tbemstlv-es in this manner, to show their agility, 
dexterity and strength. He who spoke looked like a Her- 
cules, Tbty then, fa rare favor, for they 4r« not boosters,) 
kiodly ihowed me the scars Ich by the bolls and orrowa of 
the Black Feet in their different encounters. One of them 
bore the scais of four bolls which had pierced his thigh; 
the only consequence of which was a little sdSness <rf the 
leg, scanxlx pcrctpliblt Another had his arm and breast 
pierced hy a ball. A tbirdt beside some wounds from a 
knife and spear, had an arrow, five inches [150] deep, in htg 
belly. A fourth had still two balls in his body. One 
among them, a cripple, hod his kg broken by a boll sent 
by an enemy cxjnce^ed in a hole; leaping on one leg he 
fell upon the Black Foot, and the hiding place of the foe 

iS4i-id43) Df Smet'4 Letters and Sketches 


became his grave. "These Black Feet," I rcmarkcH» ''are 
terrible people.^' The Indian who last spoke replied in the 
sense of the words of Napoleon's grenadier^ "Out, mais ils 
mcurcnt ^itc apres/* I expressed a desire to know the medi- 
cines which they use in such cases; they, much surprised at 
my question, replied, laughing, *'we apply nothing CO our 
wounds, they close of themselves." This recalled to me Ihc 
r^ly of Captain Bridger in the past year. He had had, - 
within four years, two quivervfuU of armws in his body. 
Being asked if the wounds had been long suppurating, he 
answered in a comical manner, " among the mountains 
nothing corrupts/' ^*' 

The Indians who live on Clarke river are of the middle 
size.'" The women are very filthy. Their faces, hands 

**" Junes Dnilgtr was for iH^rty liftir yun well known u a crappcfi humrtp 
•nd gutik iKraughoul tht Rocky Mematum DeSmet ip«Alu ol bkm « "oiw of 
th« 1rue»t »p9di3>«u of a rckl Imppcr 4nil RocJlj MouatuD in«n." Bora in 
Vir^^aia in 1804, his porcnta Eemaval Lo Muaouri beFon tji« Wat of iS]9-E5 H« 
WB» fint appnnticert ro a St, Loui» bUckstaith» but as «riy u iS^a went 10 lfa« 
nounluiU vilh Andrew Henry. BecaminK i^of of A«hlcr'* buid, be upland 
Oitat S*ll Ldke ia ]S>4-35, And by iSjo had visited VeUnw^tone Park. H? 
tftcrw^nlt Vfrtfred the Acnvricvn Fur Compiuiy, in whose Bfrrirre he tnj trlained 
until he bitilE Fnn Brid^r in id^\- Then- he Lit^ lor many yedn with Ms I^ulUa 
(Shoihulu) wifPt gmilj oidJn^ Western emigration- Hif ibiHty u (l lopographer 
«■• ROaAHuble. uid be kfuw the tF>as-MiSBiSHippi counUy u did lew othen. 
Hb KivicEV fta * |;uidc were, therefore, tn grcAl drniKCid for ill govenuncct And 
laiigr [mv«ie eipcdillons. Genfntl Sberiilan mnsullin; him [n reference <jo mb 
[fulian cunpii^ u Ute u 1868 As the West bec4m« dvilitcd, uid JoU ils di«- 
doctive ffonlier feAlures, Bndgcr trtired eo a farm near E«nMa Citt, wberv he 
died in lAfli^ Ifis name Es aliached (o seveTsI Weali^rn rrgioni» nouNy Bridger'l 
Peftk, in touihu'«tem Mont^^iu^ For hii portrait (taken about 1^65) icc Mon- 
UoA Hislorical Society Cont'tbtaions. Jli, pn iSii the figure of the "Trappei" 
tn (he rtome of the Monuna State capiiol at HeietiA, \% jtlao uU to be a porfr»il 
of ibis incttimque chanirter- Brid^r wai to noivd for hia mnark4b1e tales 
of WeaUm wJvctiturcs *nd *ondct» thai hia deKfipdona of Yclluwstoni: Piuk 
wpfe long UTiCTedfledH hping rontemptuouily referred irn§ "Jim Htidgrr'j fim/' 
Apropos of thii tale of irrow-woundi, it may be nuted that in 11135 Dr. Marciu 
Wbilman cilnkctcd from Biidicer'a Btiouldcr an iroo ■mjii^iead thnt bad been 
cmbAkEed Iherdn for aevejal year*. — Ed. 

^ CUil'a Rivrr (or mort exactly, Clark's Folk of Columbia) ww nimrd hy 
Ibe expioTcn Le«u tod CIaA September 0, ifto5, upon naehlne the uppu forica 



E^rfy JF^jUrn Travcis 

[Vol .7 

and feet are black and stiff with dirt- They rub then) every 
moming with a composition of red and brown earth mixed 
up with fish olL Their hair, always long and dishevelled, 
serves them for a towel to wipe their hands on. Their j^- 
mcnt 15 generally t&ttcrcd, and stiS and shining with dust 
and grease. Thcry serm to br Irs; subjrctrd to slavish labor 
than the squaws thai Ine East of the Mountains, still ihey 
have to toQ hard, and to do whatever is most difficult. 
They are obliged to carry all the household furniture or to 
mw the oLnoc when ihey move from one place to another 
at home, they fetch the wood and Che water, clean the fish, 
prepare the meals, gather the roots and fruits of the season, 
and when any leisure time is left, they spend it in making 
mats, baskets and hats of bull-rushes. What must appear 
rather singiiUr is, [151] that the men more frequently handle 
the needle than the squaws. Their chief occupations, how- 
ever, arc fishing and hunting. These Indians suffer much 
from ophthalmic adeclions. Scarcely a cabin is to be found 
on Clarke river., in which there is not a blind or one eyed per- 
son, or some one laboring under some disease of the eye. 
This probably proceeds from two causes — first, because 
they are frequently on the water and exposed from morning 
till night to the direct and reflected rays of the sun, and next, 
because living in low cabins made of bull rushes, iht large 
fire they make in the centre fills it with smoke, which must 
gradually injure their eyes. 

Conjurers are found here as w^ as ta some parts of 

of k> tribuUfT Uk BcnoTOoC ll Ukx^ Uv huh of UiBOvh tram ibe jmcdoo 
<J Barirnwr And Hell GM* rlwrx bui becoiMi dtadDCttf Claft'i F«t «feEr Kce4v* 
lag iu crcdt tnbuUrr L-ocd t^ urtbast, tb» f^th— rt Kfwr Iti flnml tonmt 
b cKvtli f roo] tbc Ki«ilben bonSs «l UuAUMf «mS Iwtuie «X^Alr nnrlh»iri 
II crmn inw l<Ulio ud tnadeai oat hm Pod d^Oftfik Lake, mnnhf ifaem 

mi iTrHthniii ■iTT'-'r'"' ^'- 'ni*iiudiEiiHv«d«0 4«-*ck>fce 

aitv" ttftn WW <M<tf «* S at tf i Ti *xk— the Fbtbmk, Onu if Atee. ud 

iS4i-i84»] De Smefs Letifrs anJ Skctcfta 301 

Europe- They are a kind of physicians. Whatever nmy 
be the compUmt of the palient these gentlemen have him 
stretched out on his back, and his friends and relatives are 
ordered to stand round him, cuch one armed with two sticks 
of unequal length. The doctor or conjurer neither fecLs the 
pulse nor looks at the tongue, but with a solemn countenance 
commences to sing some mournful struin, whilst thoBC 
present accompany him with their voices and beat time 
with the .sticks. During the singing the doctor oper»te& on 
fix patient, he knet^ls bcfoa* him, and placing his closed lists 
on the Etotnach, leans on him with all his might. Excessive 
pain makes the patient roar» but his roarings are lost in the 
noise, for the doctor and the bystanders raise their voices 
higher in proportion as the sick tnan gives utterance to his 
sufferings- At the end of each stanza the doctor joins his 
hands, applies them to the patient's lips, and blovrs with all 
his strength. This operation is repeated till al last the doc- 
tor takes from the patient's mouth, either a little while stone, 
or the claiv of some bird or animal which he exhibits to the 
bystanders protesting that he has [153] removed the cause 
of the di^ase, and that the patient will soon recover. But 
whether he recover or die, the quack is here as elsewhere 
rewarded for his exertions. Mundus vtdt decipi^ is the 
watchword of quacks, jugglers and mountebanks; and it 
aeems that the Indian conjurers are not unacquainted with 
it. I received this description of their method of curing 
diseases from a clerk of the Hudson Bay Company. I shall 
subjoin another anecdote concerning the religious ideas 
entertained by the Tchenooks.^' All men, they say, were 
created by a divinity called Eiaiapasse. but they were created 
imperfect or unfinished. Their mouths were not cleft- their 
eyes were closed, and their hands and feet were immovable; 
30 that they were rather living lumps of ilesh than men. 

**' Fqf ihe Chfnni>k (Tcbenock) Inttbuu «u our volume vt p. 740, m>t«40. — 


Earfy Wcsfrm Travels 

[Vol. a: 

Another divinity, whom they call Bc^nnwn (resembling the 
Kancboojoc of the Potowatiamies,) less powerful but more 
beDerolent than the former, seeing the imperfect state of 
titese men, took a sharp stone and with it opened their 
mouths and eyes. He also gave motion to their hands and 
feet. This merciful divinity did not rest satisfied with con- 
ferring these first favors on the human race. He taught 
them to make canoes and paddles, nets and ail the imple- 
ments now used by the Indians, He threw lat^gc rocks into 
the rivers to obstruct their courses, and confine the fish in 
order that the Indians might catch them in tar^r quantities. 
When I speak of the Indian character, I do not mean to 
include the Indians (hat live in the neighborhood of civ- 
iliied man, and have intercourse with tmn. It is acknowl- 
edged in the United States, that the whites who trade with 
those Indians, not only demoralize them by the sale of 
Sptriluous liquors, but communioite to them their own vices, 
of which some are shocking and revolting to nature. The 
Indian left to himself, is circumspect and discreet in his 
[153] words and actions. He seldom gives way to passion; 
except against the hereditary enemies of his nation. When 
there is question of them, his words breathe hatred and 
vengeance. He seeks revenge, because he firmly believes 
that it is the only means by which he can relrie\-c his honor 
when he has been insulted or defeated; because he thinks 
that only low and vulgar minds can forget an injury, and 
he fosters rancor because he deems it a virtue. With respect 
to others, the Indian is tool and dispassion^ile^ checking the 
least violent emotion of his heart. Thus should he know 
that one of his friends is in danger of being attacked by an 
enemy lying in wait for him, he will not openly tell him so, 
(for he would deem this an act of fear,] but will ask him 
where he intends to go that day, and after having received 
an answer, will add with the same indiScrcncc, that a wild 

iS4i-'^4^] De Smet's Letters and SiiUh^s 


beast lies hidden oq the way. This figurative remark 
will render his friend as cautious as if he were acquainted 
with all the designs and movements of the enemy. Thus 
again, if an Indian has been huntbg without success, be 
will go to the cabin of one of his friends, taking care not to 
show the least sign of disappointment or impatience, nor 
to speak of the hunger which he suSers. He wtU sit down 
and smoke the calumet with as much indifference as iF he had 
been successful in the chase. He acts in the same manner 
when he is among strangers- To give signs of disappoint' 
ment or impatience, is looked upon by the Indians as a mark 
of cowardice, and would earn for them the appellation of 
"okl woman," which is the most injurious and degrading 
epithet that can be applied to an Indian. If an Indian be 
told that his children have distingui^cd themselves in 
battle, — that they liave taken several scalps, and have car- 
ried off many enemies and horses, without giving the least 
sign of joy, he will answer: "They have done [154] well,'' 
If he be informed that they have been killed or made 
prisoners, he will utter no complaint, but will slmpiy say: 
*'It is unfortunate." He will make no inquiries into the 
circumstances; several days must elapse before he asks 
for further information. 

The Indian is endowed A^ith extraordinary sagacity, and 
easily learns whatever demands attention. Experience and 
observation render him conversant with things that are un- 
known to the civilized man. Thus, he will traverse a plain 
or forest one or two hundred miles in extent, and will anive 
at a particular place with as much precision as the mariner 
by the aid of the compass. Unless prevented by obstacles, 
he^ without any material deviaiion. always travels in a 
straight Kne, regardless of path or road. In the same man- 
ner he will point out the exact place of the sun, when it is 
hidden by mists or clouds. Thus, too, he follows with the 



Earfy IVesUm Travels 


greatest accuracy, the traces of men or animab, though 
\htsc should have passed over the leaves or the gmss, and 
DOthiDg be perceptible to the eye of the white macL He 
acquires this kno^^'Iedge from a constant appUcation of the 
EntcUectual faculties and much time and experience arc re- 
quired to perfect this perceptive cjualily. Generally speak- 
ing, he has an excellent memory. — He recollects all the 
articles thai have been concluded upon in their councils 
and treaties, and the ciact time i^hcn such councils were 
held or such treaties mtiiied. 

Some writers have supposed that the Indians are guided 
by instinct, and have even ventured to assert that their 
children would find their way through the forests as well as 
tho% further advanced in age, I have consulted scire of 
the most intelligent Indians on this subject, and they have 
unifonnly told me that they acquire this practical knowledge 
by long and close attention to the growth of [155! pl^'^^s and 
trees, and to the sun and stars. It is known that the north 
side of a tree is covered with a greater quantity of roos^ 
than any other, and that the boughs and foliage on the south 
^de are more abundant and luxuriant- Similar observa- 
tions tend to dbect them, and I have more than once found 
their reflections useful to myself in the excursions I have made 
through the forests. Parents teach their children lo remaric 
such things, and these in their turn sometimes add new 
discoveries to those of their fathers. They measure dis- 
tances by a day's joun!cy. When an Indian travels alone, 
his day's journey will be about 50 or 60 English miles, but 
only 15 or 20 when he moves with the camp_ They divide 
their journeys, as we do the hours, into halves and ciuarters; 
and when in their councils they decide on war or on distant 
excursions, they lay oS these journeys with astonishing 
accuracy on a kind of map, which they trace on bark or 
akios. Though Ihey have no know edge of g«)graphy, nor 

De Smfi'j LeUers and Sketikes 

of Einy science thai relates lo it, yet ihey form with sufficient 
jLCCuracy maps of the countries which they know; nothing 
but the degrees of longitude atid latitude arc wanting in 
aome to make them exact 

I remember to have read m Fr. Charlevoix' journal that 
the Indians are remarkably superstitious w"ith r^pect to 
dreams,"' This is still the case, though they interpret them 
in various ways. Some maintain Ihat during sleep ihe 
lEtional part of the soul travels about, whilst the sensitive 
continues to animate (he body. Others say that the good 
Manitoo or familiar spirit gives salutary advice concerning 
the future, whilst others hold that in sleep the soul visits 
the objects about which she dreams But all look upon 
dreams as sacred, and as the ordinar)' channels through 
which the Great Sphit and the Manitoos communicate 
(156J their designs to man. Impressed with this idea, the 
Indian is at a loss to conceive why we disregard them. As 
they look upon dreams as representations of the desires of 
some unearthly genius, or of the commands of the Great 
Spirit, they deem themselves bound to observe and obey 
them. Charlevoix tells us somewhere, and I have seen 
instances of a similar kind, that an Indian who had dreamed 
that he had cut off his finger, actually cut it, and prepared 
himself for the act by a fast. Another having dreamed 
tliat he was a prisoner among a hostile nation, not knowing 
how to act consulted the jugglers, and according to their 
dedston, had himself bound to a stake, and fire applied to 
several parts of his body- I doubt whether the quotation Is 
correct, as I have not the work of Charlevoix lo consult, but 
I know that I have described a superstitious belief which is 
generally held by the Indians of the present day. 

When the Pottowatomies or any of the northern nations 
make or renew a treaty of peace, they present a wampum, 

••Fob Ch*rl«VM]E »« our Tolurae ilil, p, ii*>, oote* Si, &). — Kt>. 



Earfy fVatem TraveU 

[Vol 37 

sash or collar. The wampum is made of a shell called ba- 
ccinum, aod shapH inlo nmall beads in the form of pearls. 
When they conclude an alliance, oScnsivc or defensive, 
with other tribes, they send them a wampum, sash and 
tomahawk dipp^rd in bicxxl, inviting thirm to come and 
drink of ihe blood of their enemi<rs. This fif^uratfve ex- 
pression oft^n becomes a reality- Among the natioiis of 
the We5t the calumet is looked upon with equal reverence, 
whether in peace or war. They smoke the calumet to con- 
firm their treaties and alliances. This smoking is con* 
sidcrod a solemn engagement, and he who should violate iU 
would be deemed unworthy of confidence, infamous, and 
an object of divine vengeance. In time of war, the calumet 
and all its ornaraents arc red. Sometimes it is partly red, 
and partly o( some other color. By the color and the man- 
ner [157] of disposing the feathers, a person acquainted 
wilh iheir practices, knows al first sight what are the de- 
signs or intentions of the nation that presents the calumets 
The smoking of the calumet forms a part of all their 
religious ceremonies. It is a kind of sacred rite which they 
perform when they prepare themselves to invoke the Great 
Spirit, and take the sun and moon, the earth and the 
water as witnesses of the sincerity of their intentions^ and 
the fidelity with which they promise to comply with their 
engagements. However ridiculous this custom of smoking 
may appear to some, it has a good effect among the Indians. 
Experience has taught them that the smoke of the calumet 
dispels the vapors of the brain, ajds them to think and 
judge with greater accuracy and preci^on, and excites their 
courage. This seems to be the principal reason why they 
have introduced it into thrir councils, where it is looked 
upon as the seal of their decisions. It is also sent as a 
pledge of fidelity to those whom they wish to consult, or 
with whom they desire to form an alliance. I know that 

1841-1B4O De Smefj Letters and Skeuhes 


the opinions of the Indians concerning the beneficm] e&eets 
of smoking the caJumet wil) be sanctioned by few persons, 
because it is demonstrated from experience tliat the smoke 
of tobacco acts as a powerful narcotic upon the nen'ous 
system, and produces suporific and debilitating effects; but 
it should be remembered that such cfEecls arc not produced 
when ihe smoke is inhaled into the lungs, as is the univcr- 
ga) practice of the Indians. 

The funeral ceremonies of the Calkobins, who inhabit 
New Caledonia, west of the mountains, arc fantastic and 
re\-oltiDg. Mr. Cox, In his journal, tclbi us that the liody 
of the deceased is exposed in his lodge for nine days, and 
on the tenth is burned-^" They choose for this purpose an 
elevated place, and there erect a funeral pile. — [15^] ^n 
the meanwhile, they invite their neighbors from all sides, 
entreating them to repair to the ceremony. All the prepara- 
tions being completed, the corpse is placed on the pile, which 
they light, while the spectators manifest the greatest joy. 
Ail that the deceased possessed is placed around the body; 
and if he be a person of distinction^ his Mends purchase 

■" The folkiwing darripiSoTi is takm aIthCM verbati™ from the book of Rom 
CoEj Advettiuns &u iha Cotamlno Rtvfr {Swn Vork. iSj:), pp. 3)S-33o, By tba 
CilkobiuB n latandrd the Tdlkolins, a pooi reodciinfE vf the ladian (lib&l nunc 
Lhlhcitrn, or proplr «f Frurr Rlvn. Thli vu n tribe 4^ Carrlpr <Ta.<:ulll) In- 
iluDB of Ui« Tlimeh Jitodc, who inbAUtcd the rt^n jLround tho lur-trmde poit ol 
AlcjomlriA, on Fja«cr Rjvcr^ By a ccdhu of ibout iSjs they DUmbcrrd but i64i 
ibt rpvohinj nistomi ptUiIvf lo th* dliponl of the d^wl w«e, however, oxnmon 
to lU Iht Cafiict Indioiu. whoK nunc b MJd by tame to have bnn given bcfamr 
of tbc burden ol Ihcir hiubaod's o^e^ w<Em by the wklows of the tribC' Mar? 
prahablr, tht name vas derived from ihnr function ol Aidlog in "curiet *' or 
por ttgu tCTou the upper Rockies- 
New CalrdonJa va£ dbtovrrtd by Aleiat^dcx Mjickeozie jn 1793: iu potU 
wtit begun tindcT Simon Kraaer (1805-061. Dming ifae fur-tridliig period, t< 
wu uk impoTtiLiiI division of (he Hudwn'a Bay Company'* FadSc provinces^ 
but nu dcpcndert upon the Qilombu di&iricU wiih beaJ(|UUiaft ftt VaixouveT. 
The chief pma ol New C^ledoDU were St. JvntM. Sliurt Lake, vid AleKAndritt. 
For it! houadviej, etc., consult Roia'a Ongfn SfUktt, in our volume vii| p^ hh* 
nalc fij. — Ed. 

joS Early )Vfstern Travtis (Vot a; 

for him a cloak, a shirt, and a pair of brcedies: these are laid 
beride him. The medicine man must he present, and. for 
the Iwt limcp has recourse lo his enchantment^ to recall the 
departed to life. Not sLccccding, he covers the dead body — 
that is, he makes a present of a piece af cloth, or leather, and 
thus appeases the anger of the relatives, and escapes the 
ycDgcancc they have a right to infiict upon him. During 
the nine days on which the corpse is exposed, the widow is 
obliged lo remain near it from the rising to the setting of the 
sun; and, notwithstanding the excessive heals of summer, 
no relaxation is allowed from (his barbarous custom. While 
the doctor is occupied in his last operation, the widow must 
lie down beside the corpse, imti) he orders her to withdraw 
from the piJe; and this order is not given until the unfor- 
tunate being is covered with blisters. She then is made 
to pass and repass her hands through the flames, to collect 
the fat, which flows from the body: with this she rubs 
her person. When the friends of the deceased observe 
that the sinews of the legs and arms liegin to contract, 
they force the miserable widow to return to the pUe, and 
straighten the limbS' 

If, during the lifetime of the husband, the woman had 
been unfaithful to him, or had neglected to provide for his 
wants, his relations then revenge themselves upon her; 
they throw her upon the pile, from whence she is dragged 
by her own relations. She is again cast upon it, and again 
withdrawn^ until she falls into a state of insensibDity. 

[159] The body being consumed, the widow gathers to- 
gcther the largest bones; these she encloses in a birch box, 
which she is forced to carry for many years. She is looked 
upon while in this itate as a slave; the hardest and most 
laborious work falls lo her lot; she must obey every order 
of the women, and even of the children; and the least dis* 
obedience or repugnance draws down upon her severe 

ift4<-'&4^) De Smer's Letters and Sketches 


chastiseinent. The ashes of her husbacd ate deposited in & 
(omb> and it is her duty to remove (rom thence the iweeds. 
These unhappy women frequently destroy themselves to 
avoid so many cruelties. At the end uf three or four 
years the relatives agree to put on end to ber mourning. 
They prepare a great feast for this occasion, and invite aD 
the neighbors. The widow is then introduced, still carrying 
the bones of the husband; these are taken from her, and 
shut up in a coffin, which is fastened at the end by a stake 
about twelve feet long. AU the guests extol her painful 
widowhood; one of whom pours upon her head a vessel of 
oilf whilst another covers her with down. It is only after 
this ceremony that the widow can marry again; but, as 
may be readily supposed, the number of those who hazaid 
a second marriage is very small- 
I have the honor to be 

Rev. and dear Father Provincial 

Your devoted servant and son, 
P. J. Dk Smet, S.J. 


St, Marie, Dec. 30th, 1841. 
Reverend Father: 

I HAVE given you the happy and consoling result of my 
journey in November. Before the dose of the year I have 
yet to make you acquainted with what has passed during 
my absence, and since my return, among the Flat Heads; 
all goes to prove what T have advanced in my preceding 

The Rev. Fathers Mengarini and Point were not idle 
during my absence- The following will give you some idea 
of the state of affairs on my return, both in regard to 



Eari}f U^fjirm Travels 

(Vol. 77 

malcrrial and ^mtual matters as weD as the practices and 
usafEes established, which could not but tend to strengthen, 
iDorc and more, our good neophytes. 

The plan moitioDed in my lelten, and unanimou^y ap- 
proved, and which we were urged lo carr)- mlo execulionp 
was* to commence with what appeared to be the most urgent. 
We enclosed the field destined to become God's portion of 
the settlement- We started the buildings intended to be 
hereafter dependencies of the fann, but serving temporarily 
for a church and residence, on account of the approach of 
winter, and our wish to unite the whole colony. These 
works were indispensable^ and were carried on with such 
spirit that in the space of a month the new buildings could 
shelter from four to five hundred souls. 

The Fiat Heads, assisting us with Ihcir whole heart and 
[t6i] strength^ had, in a short time, cut from two (o three 
thousand stakes; and the three brothers, with no other tools 
than the a^EC, saw and auger, constructed a chapel with pedi- 
ment, colonade and gallery, balustrade, choir, seats, &c. by 
St. Martin's day; when they assemMed in the iitlle chapel 
all the catechumens, and continued the instructions which 
were to end on the third of December, the day fixed for 
their baptism. In the interval between these two remark- 
able epochs, there was, on each day, one instruction more 
than usual. This last instruction, intended chiefly for 
grown persons, was given at 8 o^clock in the evening, and 
lasted about an hour and a (quarter. These good savages^ 
whose ears and hearts are alike open when the word of God 
is addressed to them, appeared still better disposed in the 
evening; the silence being unbmken by the cries of infants 
or children- Our heavenly Father so graciously heard their 
prayers, that on St. Francis Xavier's day the good Fathers 
had the consolation of baptising two hundred and tw^ 

T&4T-iS4^) Oe Smet's Lrttfri and SkrUkes 


So many souls wrested from the demons w&s mote than 
€QOUgh to excite their rage^ — seeds ol distrust, hindniDces 
occasioned by the best intcntioncd, the sickness of the in- 
terpreter and sexton, at the very moment their assistaDce 
was most required; a kind of hurricane, which took place 
the evening before the baptism, and which overturned three 
lodges in the camp, the trees tom from their roots, and 
every thing in appearance about to be uprooted, even to 
the foundations of the church — the organ uninEentionally 
broken by the sava^s, on the eve of being applied to so 
beautiful a purpose — all seemed to conspire against them; 
but the day for baptism arrives, and every cloud disappears- 

The Fathers had intended to solemnize the marriages of 
[16a] the husbands and wives on the same day as their 
baptism. They had even announcoj that the ceremony 
would take place after baptism; but the sacred rite having 
occupied a much longer time than they supposed, on account 
of the necessity of interpreting all that was said, they were 
obliged to defer this sacrament until the next day, tnisling 
to God and the new Christians, for the preservalion of their 
baptismal innocence. 

As our former Missionaries have left nothing in pmtiDg 
on the conduct we should observe with regard to marriage, 
it may, perhaps, be useful to relate here what has been our 
course, in order that our conduct may be rectified if it has 
not been judicious. 

We hold the principle, that, generally speaking, there 
are no valid marriages among the savages of these countries; 
and for this reason ; we have not found one, even among the 
best disposed^ who, after marriage had been contracted in 
their own fashion, did not believe himself justified in sending 
away his first wife, whenever he thought fit, and taking 
another. Many even have several wives in the same lodge. 
It is, however, true, that many when entering the marriage 

312 B4irfy We stent Travels [Vol. 37 

state, promise that nothing but death will ever separate tliem ; 
that tbey wQI never ^Ve their hand ro another. But what 
impassioned man or woman has not said as much? Can 
we infer from this that the contract is valid, when it is uni- 
versally received, that even after such promises they have 
not the less right to do as they please, when they become 
di^usted with each other? We are then agreed on this 
prinriplc, that among them, even to the present lime, tliere 
has been no marriage, because they have never known well 
tn what its essence and obligation consisted. To adopt an 
opposite %-icw would be to involve oneself in a kbyrinth of 
dilTiculties, from which it would be [163] very diflicuh to 
escape^ This was, if I am not mistaken, the conduct of St. 
Francis Xavier in the Indies, since it is said in his Life, that 
he praised before the married those whom he supposed to be 
dear*^t to Ihem, that they might be more easily induced 
to keep to one alone. Secondly, supposing then that there 
were material faults in their marriages, the necessity of a 
renewal was not spoken of but for the time which followed 
baptism, and this took place the day foUawing that happy 

After the Fathers had gained the necessary information 
respecting the degrees of relationship, and had given the 
necessary dispensations, the marriage ceremony, preceded 
by a short instruction, was performed, and contributed 
greatly to give the people a high idea of our holy religion. 

The twenty-four marriages then contracted presented 
that mixture of simplicity, of respectful affection, and pro- 
found joy, which are the sure indications of a good con- 
science. There were among the couples, good old men and 
women; but their presence only rendered the ceremony 
more respectable in the eyes cf those assembled; for among 
the Flat Heads all that relates to religion is sacred; un- 
happy he who would so express himself before them, as 



]S4i-<£4?l Tin Smef's Letters and Skftcfws 


to lead ihem to believe thai he thought otherwise. They 
left the chapel, their hearts filled with sentiments punSed 
by that grace which constitutes the chann of every state of 
life* and especially of those in wedlock. 

The only thing that appeared strange to them was, J^hen 
the Fathers spoke of taking the names of witnesses; but 
when they were told that this was only done becatise the 
church so ordained, to ^ve more authority and dignity to 
the marriage contract, they no longer saw in it any thing 
but what was reasonable, and the question was, wlio should 
be witness for the others? 

[164J The same astonishment was manifested with regard 
tt) god-falhers- The interpreter had translated the word 
god father, a term which is not in their language, by second 
father. The poor savages not knowing what this meant, or 
what consequences this title would imply, were not eager 
to make a choice. To be a god-father moreover offered no 
great attraction. As soon as we made them understand it| 
their difhculties vanished, and the more easily; for not to 
multiply sprilual affinities, a god-father only was given to 
the men, and a god-mother to the women; and as to the 
obligations attached to the honour of being sponsors, they 
were much less here than Hsewhere, the IJiack Gowns 
promising to take upon themselves the greatest part of the 
burden. For the first baptisms our choice of sponsors was 
wery limited; only thirteen grown persons were qualified 
to act in tliis capacity, — hut the most aged persons being 
baptised before the others, they, without laying aside the 
lighted candle, (the symbol of faith) were chosen for the 
second division; and so in like manner with the rest. 

The day preceding the baptism, the Fathers, on account 
of their labors, were only able to collect (he colony twice; 
besides, F. Mengarini was indisposed. In the evening, 
however, he assembled the people, and great was their 

314 B^rrfy Westfm Travels [VoL 97 

astcnishment on beholding the decorations of the chapel. 
Some days previously the Fathers had engaged all who 
ttTcm willing, to make matts of rushes or straws . Ali the 
women, girls and children, assembled eag^Iy for fhis good 
work, so that they had enough to cover the floor and ceii- 
inp, and hang round the waUs> These matts, omamentcci 
wilh festoons of green, made a pretty drapery around the 
altar. On a canopy was inscribed the holy of Jesua. 
Among the ornaments they placed a picture of the Blessed 
Virgin over the tabernacle; on the door of the tabcmacle a 
[165] representation of the heart of Jestis. The pictures of 
the way of the Cross, in red frames; the lights, the silence of 
night, the approach of the important day, the calm after the 
hurricane, which had burst on them only a few moments 
before — all these ciTrumstances uniled^ had, with the grace 
of God, BO well disposed the minds and hearts of our In- 
dians, that it would have been scarcely possible to find 00 
earth an assembly of savages more resembling a company 
of saints. This was the beautiful bouf]iiet which the Fathers 
were pemiitted to present to Saint Francis Xavier. The 
ne;rt day they were engaged from eight o'clock in the morn- 
ing until half past ten at mght, in the church, excepting 
only one hour and a half, which they gave Co repose. The 
following was the order followed* First, they baptized the 
chiefs and married men. These were chosen as god- 
fathers for the young men and little boys; then the married 
women, whose husbands were living with them; afterguards 
the widows and wives who had been cast oS; and. bstly, 
the young women and girls. 

It was gratifying to hear wilh what intelligence these 
good savages replied to all the questions addressed to them, 
and to see them praying at the moment of receiving baptism, 
Al the end, each received a taper whose blended light beauti- 
fully illuminated our humble chapel. 

i84»-i84i] Dc Smet's Letttn and Skeiches 315 

But let us come to something stiO more cdif}-ing> I shall 
not qjcak of their assiduous nUenfliincT at the instructions, 
— of their eagerness to hear our words, — of the evident 
profit they received from them; ail this is common in the 
course of a mission; but rarely do wc witness the heroic 
sacrifices which these Indians have made. Many, who 
had two wives, have retained her whose children were most 
numerous, and w^ith all possible respect dismissed the other. 
One evening, a savage came to seek the [i66j Fathers at the 
lodge, which was filled with Indians, and unabashed by 
any merely human consideration, asked what he should do 
in his present circumstances? On the instant he acted 
according to the instnictions given him; he dismissed his 
youngest wife, giving her what he would have wished another 
to give to his ststen if in the same situation, and was re- united 
to his first wife, whom he had forsaken. After an instruc- 
tion, a young woman, asking to speak, said that "she desired 
very much to receive baptism, but that she had been so 
wicked she dared not make the request." Each one would 
have made a public confe^oo. A great number of young 
mothers, married aaxJiding to the mode of the savages, but 
abandoned by their husbands, who were of some other 
tribe, renounced them most willingly, to have the happi- 
ness of being baptised. 

The ordinary regulations observed in the village are as 
follows: when the Anf^elus rings, the Indians rise from 
sleep; half an hour after, the morning prayers are said in 
common; all assist at Mass and at the instruction. A 
second instruction is given at evening, towards sun set, 
and lasts about an hour and a quarter At two o'clock 
in the afternoon we have the regular catechism for the 
children, at which grown persons may assist if they think 
proper. The children are formed into two divisions: the 
first is composed exclusively of those who know the first 


E^fy IVciiem Traveii 


prayers; the second of the sm&Ucr children- One of the 
Fathers fach moming visit,^ the wVk, lo fumtsh Ibetn 
with m^'dicines, and give them such usuuoce as their 
wants may require. 

We have adopted the ^lystem of instruct»oii and bestow- 
ing rewards, m usagr in the arhoola of the brothers of the 
christian doctrinir. During; catechism, which lasts about 
an hour, we have recitations and explanations, intennjnglcd 
I167] with canticles- Erety day, for each good answer, 
tickets of Hpprtiliation are given; one or mcwc, actxtrding 
to the diiBculty of the qiKstion proposed. Experience has 
proved that these tickets given at once, arc less cmbarnissuig 
than when we mark their names on a list; the former plan 
lakes less lime, and interests the children niore, rendering 
them, besidest more assiduous and careful. These tickets 
serve, at the same time, as ccrtitic^tcs of attendance at catc- 
chism^ and as tokms of inteltigmce and good will, they 
please the parent not less than their children. The former 
are indted to make their children repeat what has been said 
at cau^hi?^, to render Ihom capable of ans(^'ering better the 
following day; and also with a desire of improving them* 
selves. The wish to see their children distinguish them* 
0dves, has attracted almost the whole colony to catechism - 
none of the chiefs who have children fail to be there; and 
there is not less emulation among the parents than among 
the children themselves- A still greater v'alue is attached 
to the tickets, from the exactitude and justice with which 
the deserving arc rewarded- They who have obtained good 
tickets during the weekj are rewarded on Sunday with 
crosses, medals, or ribbons, publicly distributed- On the 
first Sunday of every month they distribute to those who 
have received the most good tickets in the course of the 
month, medals or pictures, which become their private 
property. These pictures, preserved with care, are great 

i84i-i«4»] IV SmeiU Letter: and Skftches 317 

stimulants, not only to the study of their catechism but also 
to the practice of piety. They are monuments of vjctory, 
examples of virtue, exhorUlion^ to piety, and mcbdels of 
perfection, Thar rarity, and the effons necessary to 
obtaJn Ihcm, also enhance their worth. As we desire 
to inspire the savages, who arc naturally inclined to 
idleness, with a love for work, it has been judged suitable 
to reward [16S] their little efforts in the same manner as 
we recompense their improvement in, and knowledge of 
their catechism. 

To mauitam onler^ and pmmotr emulation among them, 
the catechism children are divided into seven or eight sec- 
tions, of six each; the boys on one side, the girls on the 
other. At ihc head of each section there is a chief, who 
must assist the children placed under him to learn their 
catechism; that thus every child may indulge the hope of 
meriting a reward at the end of the week or month. They 
are 90 divided that the competitors, to Ihe number of five or 
six in each section, may be of nearly equal capacity. 

Father Point, who was, immediately after ChristmaSt 
to accompany the a5scmblod camps of Flat Heads, Pends- 
d'oxeilles, Ncz-pcnryi, &c. prepared for his new campaign 
by a retreat of eight days. Twenty-four marriages, as I 
have already said, had been celebrated during my ab«ence, 
and two hundred and two adults, with little boys and girls 
from eight to fourteen years of age, had beea baptised. 
There were still, thirty-four couples, who awaited my re- 
tum, to receive the sacraments of baptism and marriage, or 
to renew Iheir marriage vows. The Nez-perces had not 
yet presented theh" children for baptism. There was an old 
chief of the Black Feet nation, in the camp, with his son 
and his little family, five in all, who had been hitherto very 
assiduous in their attendance at prayers and catechism. 
The day succeeding my arrival I commenced giving three 

Jl8 Barfy Western Travels (VoL 37 

instructions <laily, besides the cEtecbtsm, vrhicb was taught 
by the other Fathprs- They profited so well, thai with ihe 
l^ce of God, a hundred and fifteen Fl^t Heads, with three 
chiefs at their head, thirty Nes-perces with their chief, and 
the Black Foot chief and his family, presented themselves 
at ihe baptismal font on Christinas flay. \ began my Ma**- 
s>G3 at seven o'clock in the morning; at five o'clock, P. M, 
I [169] still found myself in the chapel: The heart can 
conceive, but the tongue cannot express the emotions which 
such a consoling spectacle may well awaken. The following 
day I celebrated a solemn Mass of Thanksgiving for the 
signal favours with which our Lord bad deigned to visit 
his people. From six to seven hundred new Christians, 
with bands of little children, baptised in the past year, — all 
assembled in a poor little chapel, covered with rushes -^ 
in the midst of a desert, where but lately, the name of 
God was licarcdy known; oETering to the Creator their 
regenerated hearts, protesting that they would persevere 
in His holy service even to death, was an offering, without 
doubly most agreeable to God, and which, we trust, will 
draw down the dews of heaven upon Che Fkt Head 
nation and the neigbboumg tribes. 

On the jglh the large camp, accompanied by the Fathers* 
left us for the great buffalo hunt, and joined the Pcnds- 
d'oreilles, who awaited them at two day's journey hence; 
there will be above two hundred lodges. I am filled with 
hope for the success and fresh victories, with which, I trust. 
Gori will dtign to reward the zeal of his senant. In the 
mean dme we occupy ourselves (Father Mengarini and 
myself) in translating the catechism into the Flat Head 
tongue; and in preparing one hundred and fifty persons for 
their first communion. 

Our good brothers and the Canadians are engaged at the 
same time in erecting aroimd our establishment a strong 

i54i-i^4«] -D^ Smer^s Letters and Sketches 319, fortified with basrions, lo shelier us from the 
incursions of the Black Feet, whom we daily expect to 
visit us. Our confidence in God is not weakened; we 
take the precautions which prudence dictates, and remain 
without fear at our post. 

A young Sinpoil has just arrived in our camp, and these 
[170] arc his words: '*I am a Sinpoil, my nation is compas- 
sionate. I have been sent to hear your words, and leam the 
prayer you teach the Flat Heads, The Sinpoils desire also 
to know it» and to imitate their example." *" This young 
man proposes to pass the winter in our camp^ and return in 
the spring lo his own nation, to sow atBong ihem the seeds of 
the gospel. 

The whole Flat Head nation converted — four hundred 
Kalispels baptised — eighty Nez-perces, seven! Coeurs- 
d^aliene, many Kooetenays, Black Feet, Serpents and Ba- 
nacs, — the Sinpoils, the Chaudieres/** who open their arms 
lo us, and eagerly ask for Fathers to instnict them; the 
earnest demands from Fort Vancouver on the part of the 
Governor,'*' and of the Rev. Mr, Blanchette, assuring us 

** Suipdl luu bren vnriomis' interprrttd u ■ French wnrt (meiiilng " wlthovt 
bain")«nutb« EcgUflh rcndehBg o(a ludveword- They w«ttii tribe ol Saliihao 
HOCki i<ciIikcLl upon the upp<r CoLumbiA, Dear a n^r in DorthciiAitcm WAohin^n 
chlled from ihrir c&mp Thp Sunpoil rlid nol pnivp amrTtiibJr to mivikinary dTurt. 
The govcroor of Wushingion Terri(ory tn 1S70 reppwenU Ihem m Ifac (cbsi ci'HU 
L£cd uid moBl indepcutJcm HboriginM of ihc Icmtory, cliogiajt lo ihcir ruitivt 
reli^n und cujtorni 5inrt Ihcn, thej" hivr been loratMl on ihe CoWille waer- 
VBlion, when tbfir repuucioo for hoa««ly umi industry ii Dal hi^ With tb«u 
ncv kiodi^ ibe Ncapelin, they nuniLcr itboul Four hundmil, — Ed. 

^*>Tb« Ctuuditn (or t^nle} Indi^u ven? to ixuned from tbeir babiisi rwu 
Kettle Fftlb iA the C!o[uiiLibia. Their lutivc name vr^a S1]<ruyrlp[ (Skoj^pi)- 
frndEfBd Wheelpoo bjr I-ewis and CUrk. They wcw e*rlybrou^t under Catholic 
taflueru^ef becoming satufnctory neophytci- Th« oHgJiiiJ iHbe bHUoe extinel 
aboul iB^i but their place wos aupplkd by oatjvn of the vkinity. uf ^ilai 
Arigin. Thr7 arp nr><r knovn u Colvlllr livlUn^ atid to itt numbrr of ^boiit 
thr« buodtcd live on the wiservatiofi of that name, "here the majority Are 
Calbolit ojiumuiiiianta.^ Hcf^ 

■" For Fort Vancouver arul iia govcroor, Dt- John McLoughUa. we Tmtb- 
•cnd'a JVarrofrw. ja our volume »d, pp- a^j J97, notca 3t. fii.— Ei>> 




Earfy Western Traveb 


of the gDod desires and dtspositioDS of a great number of 
nacioas, ready to receive the gospd,— in a wc^ a vast 
coustTj, which only awaits the airrval of true ministeiB of 
God, to raDy roimd the standard of the Cross — beboM the 
beautiful bouquet. Rev. Father, which we have the happi- 
ness of presenting you at the close of i84i-^'* It is at the foot 
of the crudfb that you arc acctistomed to ask counsel of 
heaven for thr welfare of the nationfi entnisled to your 
childreo* Our number is very hi from sufficient for the 
preaitDg and real wants of this people. The Protestants 
^ are on the ^ vive. Send us then some Fathers and 
Brothera to assist us, and thousands of souls will falcss you 
at the throne of God for all eternity. 
Kccommccding myself to vour holy prayers. 

I have the honour to be, with the otost profound 
respect and esteem, 

Rev. Father, Yours, &c 
P. J. De Sket, S-J. 

Ia iSjSk vImi a cjiU cask bm Ihe '"^™'**— l> IW «Blkr ^ ik WVmdcO* 
for • prtat taminitcr to AriritftWaMat, BIahIucvu hbi ml wfEb the Hadkoo** 
Baj bn'p^, 4ntTiaK at Fort VADComrcr in Ike auCLima cd 'Ji4t TtAf, Catlj Ifi 

JnoMj. iS«^ St ?a«r» pvlrii. in WUhmcot Vtlkr- ««» e^ibHilifd by Bkft- 
dwi, uid tt« fboRfe flKWd Ihfnfar In iSj6 wu occ^piwl. In tS^j BhfWt 

VW «ppoiil«d vkv BpoMottfl of Aft ttnlMiJ Cf llx BrUuZi cn^ta nmt uf tbc 

fcocklBii Gdot iv MoaDHl lor coMBa^floa, be ftJtovardi vaiirO Eurapr, 

U* fOftraH Ml tjn&ta, Oi^^n (S«« VoA. 190J), iii. p. 4a). Hb Eitt^rk^ 
jW^Acf W <A« C«tMk <hm*k m Omtm ^^mc aW /otf /frl> ^nn vtf pubUilHl 
«l ?0flkBil In iH^a — Fjk 





Madison Fork&,'*^ 15th August, 1843. 
Rev. &Dd dear Father: 

AfTEtt a journey of four montlis and a half acros^t an 
ocean of prairies and mountains, where we met nmny aJQ 
obstacle, wc arrived this day a year ago, under the aus- 
pices of the Queen of Heaven, at one of the Forts of the 
honorable company of Hud»>n Bay, called Fort Hall. Mr. 
EnnantigeT, the estimable cominander of this Fort, received 
U3 in the most friendly manner, and loaded us with favours. 
At this place we Found the vanguard of our dear neophytes 
awaiting us. How joyful and happy was this meeting. 
What had they not done to obtain Black Gowns to visit 
them? Four times had their dq>utalions crossed the West- 
em desert — eight of their people had perished on the road, 
three from sickness, and five fell victims to the Scioux tribe. 
Twice from the Bitter Root river aUnosl all their people had 
transported themselves to the Green river, a distance of 
more than fi\e hundred miles from their usual encampment- 
In fine, those who then joined us had at the first news of 
our approach again traversed the half of that space to meet 
us; nor could they, on [174] first seeing us, express their 
feelings but by their silence, Very soon, however, they gave 
vent to the grateful sentiments of their hearts, in such a man- 
ner as to astonish us. **I am very ignorant and wicked," 

'*MuJuon River ii one of the three upper bnncbfs of tht Missouri. Rinne 
in VeUowBtOM Pu-kt it la formed by \h< )unct»b of Gibbon uid Firthok; dvcfi* 
and At &rat flows north through a mQuniAlzinui and rodiy courtn/, h^t In ^ts 
low« pwiches cour*** through t Itrttle vfcUej. — £d. 

3^4 Earfy Westtm Travels [Vol 17 

exdaimed the chief Wtstelpo to his compADions, ''never- 
theless I am grateful to the Grtst Spirit for aU hr has done 
for us." Detailmg all the beQeBts be bad received he 
terminated his discourse in the following manner: ^'Ves, 
my drar friths, my heart is fiiled with conlentmentT not' 
withs^lsnding tls wickedness. I do not despair of the good- 
ness of God, I only wifih for life to employ it in prayer; 
never will I give up praying; 1 will continue to pray until my 
death, and when that hour comes I will throw my^lf into 
the arms of the Master of Life, If it be His will that I 
should be lost I will submit to his decree. Should he wish 
to save me I ^tU bleas him forever. Once more I repeat, my 
heart is happy. What can we do to prove to our Fathers 
that wc love them/' — Here the chief made some pmctical 

They informed us that since I left them in 1840 their 
brothers had always remained in the same dispositions; 
that according to the plan I hod Uud out for them, aU the 
people met twice every day, and three times' on Sundays, 
to recite in common (he prayers I had taught them. They 
also told us that the chest containing the sacred ornaments 
and vases, which we had left in their charge, was carried 
about as the ark of salvation, wherever they went; that 
five or six children, dying after having received the sacra- 
ment of baptism, had taken their flight to heaven; that 
a young warrior, the day after his baptism, had died from 
the effects of a wound, which, without the aid of a miracle, 
would have carried him off long before; and finally, that 
a young child, finding herself at the point of death, solicited 
baptism v^-ith the greatest earnestness, and after having 
received [175] this favour from the hands of Peler, an 
Iroqucris, she repeated three times to the witnesses of her 
happiness: **pray for me — pray for me— pray for me;" 
then she prayed hcisclf and sang canticles with a stronger 


iS4r'iS4?| Df Smtt's Letters and Sketches 


vcnce than any cf the others, and upon drawing her last 
breathf she exclaimed, pointing towaixjs heaven: '^Ohl 
what a beautiful sight! I behold Mary, my mother, hap- 
pincss does not belong to earth, in heaven alone miut 
you seek it. Lislen to what the Black Gowns tell you, 
because they profess the truth;" and immediately after- 
wards expired, 

Wc left Fort Hall on the i^th of the month, conducted 
by our new guides, who were not long in giving us striking 
pnxrf of their devotion towards us. At the crossing of a 
very rapid river, called the Lewis' Fork or Snake River, 
from the savages who people its borders, one of our broth- 
ers, not being able to guide the mules of his cart, was 
dragged into a place so deep that his whole equipage was 
plunged under the water; immediately the good savages 
threw themselves into the river, raised the cart out of the 
water, employed their hands and feet so usefully, that 
only three mules were drowned and some bags of provi- 
sions lost. 

The jpth we met near the source of the Missouri, called 
the Beaver Head, a detachment of Flat Heads^ having as 
their leader Ensyla, caUed the Little Chief, who has since 
received in baptism the name of Michael, on account of his 
fidelity and courage, A few days previous, a party of In- 
dians having been discovered on the adjacent heights, a cry 
was raised of ''the Black Feet! the Black Fectl" In 
standy the little camp put itself on the defensive. Two of 
the bravest Flat Hesids, lifting up their muskets m the air, 
started o£f at full gallop to reconnoitre the enemy. Already 
they had disappeared from our vicw^ leaving us somewhat 
anxious, but they soon returned^ at the head of about ten 
[176] stranger*- They were not the Black Feet, but a party 
of the Banac tribe, a species of men half inimical and half 
friendly to the Flat Heads, who for that very reason, as we 


1841-1843] Of Smff's Lettrrs and Siftches 329 

Wi-as moved. Thai trvening was ccnamly beautiful. On 
th« /east oi the holy name of Mary, ihe whole camp renewed 
the consecjalion of themselves to their future Patroness, 
which had been previously made by the vanguard of the 
first selliemcnl. 

About the time the Church celebrates the feast of Mary's 
pure heart, it seemed as though the God of the Christians 
wished to give to ker new children the consolation of see- 
ing tht' principal trns in ihcir lives coincide, and in some 
manner become identified with those happy days conse- 
crated especially to her honor. It was on the fcaat which 
the Church celebrates in memory of her triumph, that we 
first met with the Flat Heads; it will be on the 24th of Sep- 
tember, also one of the festivals, that we shall arrive on the 
borders of our little Paraguay, and on the feast of the Holy 
Rosary we shall select a beautiful spot for our first settle- 
ment, and c^ it by the holy name of Mary. It is agam 
remarkable that the nomination took place on another feast 
called the Patrocinium, or i^tronagc of the Blessed Virgin; 
and thus Mary, chosen patroness of the settlement, was 
hafled for the first time on this spot with the angelical 
salutation, accompanied by the ringing of bells. It was a 
great consolation for us to speak of her goodness, in the 
presence of the representatives of twenty-six different na- 
lions- I foi^oi to mention that on the day we look posses- 
sion of the Blessed Mary's new demesne, we set up a large 
cross in the middle of the camp, a circumstance rendered 
more striking, from having, as they assur^ me, been pre- 
dicted [i 78] by the young girl, called Mary, of whom I spoke 
to you before. How much I wished that ali those who take 
a sincere interest in the progress of our holy religion, could 
have been present. How their hearts would have glowed 
within them on beholding all the good Flat Heads, from 
the great chief to the smallest child, piously coming up to 


Earfy Western Travels 


pK£5 their lips to the wood which was the instrument of 
the world's sahation, and on their bended knees taking the 
solemn promise of dying a thousand times rather than 
abandon prayer, (religion^ I started the 28th October for 
Fort Colville, whkh is situated on the Columbia river* to 
procure provisions.'** Ours had become m) scanty, and 
we enlerlatned such sliglil hopes of ubtuining them, that 
we had already thought of conveithig bto iishermen the 
caipenten of our settlement. In case of their not being 
successful, and thereby unable to supply our wants, we 
intended accompanying Ihe savages on their hunting expe* 
ditions. Our only building as yet was a wooden boitfe, 
without a roof, and the winter had already set in. Wc be 
gan by recommending our wanU to God, and with God's 
as!iisiancr wc found ourselves, on St, Manin's day, in 
po&sessioQ of a temporary chapel, larf^ enough to contain 
all the colony, with about one hundred of the Pierced Nose 
tribe, whom curiosity hiid attract«%l to the nrighborhood. 
Since that period ihey have been «o careful in avoiding sin, 
so e^ct in attending our instructions, and the (niit of the 
divine word has been so visible in our settlement, that ou 
the 3d of December two humlml and two caltThumem 
were ranged in our chapel, waiting for baptism. This was 


■'*Fi>r| CoMllr 9oa a UurUon** B*y CompAftf pm, built in 1815 to luper- 
acitc (bv fun mt S|H)kanr. vhii'b wi) U» Fu- tolaiui Air cP H Tftitfnt uitns TIm 
«ltv ma hX KvttI* Fttl* nn (lu> vb«i Urk of th« Hnaa (w« AI«Giai|fr ^JOm, #W 
BwOatyH,^. iAf1^Uic|»atbcLikKnune4farl^LDndcmgDVC9rBoroftbe<OCa|MAr, 
Eden CalvEUt- The tort bcc&me «n Impcuurkt iUtion on die touic of ibe Ccilunitia 
brigmlt; Iwn jlccouqu for \hr dJMrici *«rE mulv up, iml Ih* dlgnitartx of lbs 
compAnf *iit«rtain«d' Govh Gvor][* Simpion had bMti «i Port CoMU« in tb« 
CUiDmrr before DeSmrfi Ytill. vhcrti Afi:hJbAld MftirdoaiLkt wu Ebr tMnra U 
durf^ 'l*hia po<t tnm maintHlned lome Ume ilirt the Amenf^M uquirad tha 
Orc|[0D TerrJlory, but about ({157 It wu rtmrivfti nnrth of the mUfnati^p*! boua- 
dify Hiieh la lA^g the Unilcd Siatrs ici^iTMiincDt built a milltaty pcsE oiled fan 
CoMll? voiup mlln vnal M \\yv oTd tiLr-tradlng slorlivie. iwar Uv pmpnl |c*tl 
of ColviUe, WaahibfloD. The fid^bcvlnK liHliana ha^iai bMome peaceful, tb« 
lart is no loni^eT ^rrutinML'* Rp. 

1641-1643) Dc Smtfs LetUri and Sketches 


too beautiful an oBcring to St. Fmods Xavicr, apostle of 
the Intlbit!), not to excite the fury of tnan's gn^t enemy — 
Accordinf^ly, for 3 few days previously we encountered 
multiplied trials* To speak only of the most visible, the 
prefect, [179] interpreter and sexton fell sick. The rery 
eve of ihe great day the environs were laid waste by a sort 
of hurricane — the church windows were broken, large 
trees were rooted up, and three huts were thrown down; 
but the» obstacles, far from prejudicing the triumph of 
religion, served only to render it still more striking. 

The catechumens having assembled in the chapd, whtdi 
had been adorned with its most beautiful ornaments, and 
where they had been conducted for the more immediate 
preparations of their hearts prior to receiving the great 
sacrament of baptism, were so struck by the imposing 
appearjince of the chapel^ and the melodious sounds of the 
organ, now heard for the first time in the wDdemess, that 
they were not able to express their admiration. The next 
day, with the exception of the time the Fathers took for 
their dinner, (hey were in church from eight o'clock in the 
morning until half past ten in the evening. How delightful 
it was to listen to the intelligent answers of the good savages 
to all the questions proposed to theoL Never will ihose who 
were present forgel the pious spirit of their replies- The 
rehabilitations of their marriages succeeded baptism, but 
not without great sacrifices on their part, because, until 
that time^ the poor Indians had been ignorant of the unity 
and indissolubility of the conjugal tie. We could not help 
admiring the mighty effects of the saerament of baptism io 
their souls. One poor husband hesitated as to which of hia 
wives he should select. The oldest of them, perceiving his 
irresolution, said to him: " You know how much I love 
you, and I am also certain that you love mc, but you cherish 
anolhcr more; she is younger than I am. WcU, remain 

i84i'i84a| De S$nefs Letters and Skstchts 


Bitter Root,— which we shall henceforward call St. Mary's, 
— by a beautiful defile, commor.iy called, by the moun- 
taineers or Canadian hunters^ the Devil's Gate;'*' for what 
reason, however, I know not. These gentlemen have 
frequently on their lips the words [t8i] devil and hell; 
and it is perhaps on thi5 account that wc heard so often 
these appellations. Be not then alarmed when 1 tell you 
that I examined the Devil's pas, went throu^ the Devil's 
gate, rowed on Satan's stream, and jumped from the 
Dev0's horns. The "rakc/^ one of the passes, the horns, 
and the stream, really deserve names Chat express something 
horrible — all three are exceedingly dangerous. The first 
and second, on account of the innumerable snags which fill 
their beds, as there are entire forests swallowed up by the 
river. The third pass of which I spoke^ adds to the diffi- 
culties of the others a current still stronger. A canoe 
launched into this torrent fiics over it with the speed of an 
arrow, and the most experienced pilot trembles in spite of 
himself. Twice did the brave Iroquois, who conducted otir 
light canoe, exclaim: ''Fathcrt we arc lost;'' but a loud 
ay of "coinage — take courage, John, confide in God, 
keep steady to the oar/' saved us in that dangerous stream, 
drew us out from between the horns and threatening teeth 
of this awful ** rake." But let us return to our account of 
the journey to Colville. We spread our skins on the bor- 
ders of a little river at the foot of a high mountain^ which we 
were to cross the next day, having traversed St. Mary's valley, 
a distance of about forty miles. This valley is from four to 
seven miles wide, and above two hundred long. It has but 
one fine defile, already mentioned, and which serves as the 
entrance to, and issue from, the valley. The mountains 
which terminate it on both sides appear to be inaccessible; 
they are piles of jagged rocks, the base of which presents 

'"Bell G*(e, for whidi s« artk, pT iO^. note i3f^-*-ED. 


Early Wfstcm Trawts 

[Vol. 37 

nothing but fragments of the same dcscriptioD, while the 
Nor'A'rguin pine grows on tho^ liial are coverttl with 
earth, giving them a very sombre appeanmce. particularly 
in the autumn, in which season the snow be^s to fall. 
They abound in [iSa] bucks, bufialoa, a.nd aheq>, whose wool 
is aA white as snow, and as Hne as silk; also in all kinds of 
bears, wolves, p>anthers, carcasiux,'" tiger cats, wild cats, 
and whistlers, a species of mountain rat> The moose is 
found here, but is very seldom caught* on account of ita 
exlraordinary vigilance, for, on the slightest rustling of a 
branch it leaves oS eatmg, and wilt not return to its food 
for a long time afterwards. The soil of the valley is, with 
some few exceptions* very light; it contains, however, some 
good pastures. The whole course of the river is well lined 
with trees; esi>eciaUy with the pine, the fir, cotton, and 
wiUcw trees. 

Amongst the most remarkable birds we distinguished the 
Nun's eagle, (so called by travellers on account of the color of 
its head, which is white, whilst the other parts of the body 
are black,) the black eagle, buzzard, waterfowl, heron, crane, 
pheasant and quail. On the 30th we ascended a ^p in the 
mountain. The two sides were very lofty, and studded vrith 
large pines, alt the branches of which were covered with a 
black and very fine moss, that hung in festoons, or in the 
shape of mourning garlands, and added to the already 
funereal appearance of this pass. We here filed oEF by a 
little path, scarce worthy however of the name, for a dis- 
tance of six miles. The road was filled with large blocks of 
stone and trunks of trees, placed as if it were on purpose to 
render the pass difficult and impracticable. The summit 
once attained, we proceeded to cross a smiling little plain^ 
called the Camash Prairies, where the Flat Heads come every 
spring to dig up that nourishing root, which, together with 

"•The camjou or w&lvtriiK {Cuh huntf)- — El>. 


iS4r-id43] ^^ Smet'i Letters and Sketches 


the game they are able to procure^ forms their chief nourish* 
ment. Wc vay soon desceoded the mountein in a zigzag 
direction, and rc&cbcd a besutiful plain, which is watered 
by two rivers, the St [183J Aloyaus and St- Stanislaus.'" 
They unite in this plain^ whence they go to join the forks at 
-Clark's, otherwise called the Flat Head river. This valley 
extends about ten miles, I perceived in this place one of 
those fonnidable Black Foot Indians in the act of hiding 
hunself. t did not spe&k of it to my young companions^ 
fearing that I might not be able to prevent a bloody struggle 
between them, I however took the precaution of having 
a good watch kept over our horses. The next day was Sun* 
day, a day of rest I celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the 
Mass, and baptized three little children of the Pointed Hearth 
tribe, whose parents had joined us on the road. The rest 
of the day was spent in prayer and instrxictions. The chief 
of our band twice addressed bis companions, and spoke 
with much force and precision on the different portions of 
our religion, which he already had heard explained. The 
ist of November — All Saints' Day — after having ce!e* 
btated the Holy Sacrifice under a large poplar tree, we pro- 
ceeded on our journey through a defile of about sb; miles. 
At the ford of the Great Clark's Fork» we met two encamp- 
ments of the Kalispel tribe, who, having heard of our ap- 
proach, had come thither to see us.*" Men, women and 

■"The n>u(« uimUy taken by Ihe indlirudid not fallow ihc mikin bnnch of 
lb; river, but croued llic lUvidc bctvKD (be Missouli uid Jocko rirrtB, doming 
down itiio the vsHcy uf tbe FtathpiicL and procwding ilang thflt (a \\% oullrl into 
Cluk't Forif. The two Uiumi ujaea fcr the Mlata frtte the raAin F1t1h«u] 
and Jocko ritvra, which tinilc Id the prmirjc ducribtd \rf Dc SmcL ThcK wen • 
awntxr of vnall pnlriu In the vidnicy. knawn nt Carnju from (he ibtindnnrF of 
tluT rxwt (Cdmdi ttcuUMd) The better-kaown Cumt VnLrie v« t^vnty milw 
b«low th« motith ol the Jocko^ the ooc foentloned by Dc Smel wm oppaKntJy 
hi^bcr up. neu tlic divide ol the two riven. These should all be diaiinKVLlsbrel 
tiom ihp Camu Pnilrie (Quun^ FkU) of L«wii ud CUrk, which Uy vKt «f 
the BillerroQt MountAioa. — Ed. 

'"The K&Iiap«| ax^ the ume tribr as eh* Pend d'Oredle, see MiCf, p 141^ 

ante a, — ED. 

336 Earfy fVisimt Travels [Vol a; 

children, rao to meet us, and pressed our bands with ercry 
dt'monstration of siimrrr joy, Xlwr chi<rf i>f th<' finit oinip 
was called ChaUx. I baptised twenty-four children in hU 
UtUe village, and one young woman^ a Koctcnabe. who ww 
dying. The chief of the second camp was named Hoylelpo; 
his band occupied thirty huU, I spent the nighi amnngst 
them; and, although they had never seen me before, they 
knew all the praycn^ that I had taught the Flat Heads on my 
first journey. The fact is, on hearing of my arrival in the 
mountains, they deputed an intelligent young man to meet 
me. and who was also gifted with a good [1S4] memory. 
Having learned (he prayers and canticles, and such points 
as were most essential for salvation, he repeated to the vil- 
bge all that he had heard and seen. He had acquitted 
himself of his commission so well, and with so much zeal, 
that he gave instiuclions to his people during the course of 
the winter. The same desire for information concenung 
religion, had conununicated itself to the other small camps, 
and with the same cheering success. It was, as you can 
ea^y imagine, a great consolation for me to hear prayers 
addressed to the great God, and his praises sung in a desert 
of about three hundred miles extent, where a Catholic priest 
had never been before. They were overjoyed when Ih^ 
beard that I hoped before long to be able to leave a ^Gs- 
sionary amongst them. I cannot pass over in silence, a beau- 
tiful custom that is observed by these good people: Every 
evening, after prayers, the chief instructs his people, or gives 
them some salutary advice, to which they all listen with most 
profound attention, respect and modesty. To see them at 
their devotions one would be more apt to mistake them for 
perfectly religious men than savages. The neit day, be- 
fore my departure, I baptised twenty-seven children of the 
tribe On that c%'cning wc alighted among^ fifteen buta 

i«4i-i3U>1 Dt Sme/'s LettfTs and Skftch£s 


of the same rution, tvho received us vrith equal kindness.'^ 
Their chief had come several miles to meel me. He ac- 
knowledged fmnkly that having become acquainted with 
some American ministers, in the course of the summer — 
he had been told by them that my prayer (religion) was 
not a good one. "My heart is divided." said he, "and 
I do not know what to adhere to." I had no trouble in 
making him uaderstand the diffrreoce betworn those gentle- v 
men and priests, and the cause of their calumnious attacks 
against the only true church of Christ, which their ances- 
tors [185] had abandoned. On the 3d of November, after 
prayers and instructions to the savages, we continued our 
nurch> We were on the borders of the Clarke Forks, to 
which we were obliged to keep close during eight days, 
whtlst we descended the coimtry bordering the stream. The 
river is at this place of a greenish blue, very transparent, 
caused probably by the deposit of a great quantity of oxigen 
of iron/" Our path during a great part of the day was 
on the declivity of a lofty, rocky mountain; we were here 
obliged to climb a steep rough pass from 400 to 600 feet hi^. 
I had before seen landscapes of awful grandeur, but this one 
certainly surpassed all others in horror. My courage failed 
at Ihc first ^ghl; it was impos^ble to remain on horseback, 
and on foot my weight of two hundred and eleven potmds, 
was no trifle. This, therefore, was the expedient to which 
I resorted: My mule Lizettr was sufficiently docile and 
kind to allow me to grssp her tail, to which I held on firmly: 
crying at one moment aloud, and at other times making 
use of the whip to excite her courage, until the good beast 
conducted me safely to the very lop of the fiK>uDlain, — 

'™ Diiriag tlv lUf (u ducribed la Cbittendcn ud Ridunbon, IH SwttTt 1, 
p. .147)- t^v i^thet had pumt CaiDki PmLriff and ulvADcrd Ihmu^ Hnrw Plftlfi 

M lh« juncCcD ol Fbllufld and t:Urt'» Kork. — Ed. 

^* Doubtlm Lnlendnl Uit aride of iraa-—' ED- 


Earjy fVMfm Travtls 

IVoL n 

Thert I breathed freely for awhile^ and contemplated the 
magnificent prospect that presented itself to my sight. 

The windings of the river with the scenery od its banks 
were before me, on one side hung over our heads, rocks 
piled on rocks in the most precipitous mancer, and on the 
other Mood lofty peak^ crowned with snow and pine trees: 
mountains of every shape and feature reared their towering 
forms before us. It really was a fine view and one which 
va^ well worth the efiort we had made. On descending 
from this elevation I had to take new precautions. 1 |>re- 
cedvd the mule, holding her by the bridle, while she moved 
cautiously down to the foot of the "Bad Rock," (as it is 
called by the savages,) a5 though she feared stumbling [i86] 
and rolling with her master into the river which flowed 
beneath us. At this place Clarke's Fork runs through a nar- 
row defile of rocky mountains; at times the soft muimur- 
ings of the waters charm the traveller, at others it spreads 
out and presents a calm surface dear as crystal- Wherever 
it is narrowed or intercepted by rocks it forms rapids, with 
falls and cascades; the noise of which, Uke that caused by 
a storm in the forest, is heard at a great distance. Nothing 
can be more diversified than this fine river.'"' There is in 
this vicinity a great variety of trees, bushes and different 
species of the tamarisk tree- The lichnis, a medicinal plant 
mentioned by Charlevoix in his history of Canada, grows 
here abundantly. We met in the course of that day with 
only one family, and that was of the Kalispel tribe. Whilst 
the women were rowing up the river their light canoe, made 
of the fir tree bark, which contained their children and all 

t Mttr^ voE- xriii, p, 91) Ibe r^Jlv^r k ibu» dcictibad: '*Tl4 oext waj-^w^ mDes 
nlonc the TtSky of ClwL's FoiL ia orcr > liiilknh tnil, dvR bdAf pWci vte* 
the (harp pvti injund ibe Anioub ; '* AfifB, " Tb# vtlV^ u w|d*^ uibb, uid 
taviticg for Knlsneoi, fthbovfh hAm bM«il* i>oddcd.'— £ik 

t&4t-tS4>l D^ Smrt's Letters 4ind Skftches 


the baggage, Ihe men followed along the bank with their 
rifles or bows in thdr hands in pursuit of game. 

On the 4th wc entered a cedar and pine forest so dense 
that in its whole length we could scarcely see beyond the 
distance of twenty feel. Our beasts of burden suffered a 
great deal in it from the want of grass. We scarcely got 
through it after thr% day's march. It was a real labyrinth; 
from morning till night we did nothing but wind about to 
avoid thousands of trees, fallen either from fire, storms or 
age. On issuing from this forest we were charmed by an 
interesting prospect: Our view extended over the whole 
surfece of the lake called " Pends-d'oreilles^" studded with 
small islands covered with woods: over its inlets and the 
hills which overlook them, and which have for the most 
part their base on the borders of the lake and rise by 
gradual terraces or elevations until they reach the adjoin- 
ing mountains, which are covered with perpetual snow. 
The [187] lake is about 50 miles long and from 4 to 7 wide."* 
At the head of it wc traversed a forest, which is certainly a 
wonder of its kind ; there 15 probably nothing similar to it in 
America. Tbe savages speak of it as the finest in Oregon, 
and really every tree which it contains is enormous in its 
kind. The birch, elm and beech, generally small else- 
where, like the toad of La Fontaine, that aimed at being as 
large as the ox, swell out here to twice their size> They 
would fain rival the cedar, the Goliath of the forest, who, 
however, looking down with contempt upon his pitiful 

" EkfciuK dctu 
Son fronf ludaricu*-" 
"Reus (□ hnvcD his aurtocioiij he^i" 

** \j»kt Psid d'Orellle, In Kjmwnii Cminir, M&ha, u aiw o f the moat p4dur* 
cs^iu? bofEJcs of Irab w4lcT ia Uu Westera sCatca- Ic b irrefuU; in tfaopci about 
itxty miln Jang, and frum three la Qflceu in brt^tb, «ilh « dun Hoc of ocvrly 
hwt bandrad milM- U ng pmbabljr, fiisr of wbti« m«D, viiltiMl by mpp«rB tnd 

340 Earfy Western Travtis (\'oL i-j 

The birch and beech at its ade, resemble large candebbras 
placed around a massive column. Cedars, of foiir and five 
fathoms in circumference, arc herr very common; we saw 
some &u[> and I nimsurtrl one forly-t^vo feet in circumfi-r- 
ence. A cedar of four fathoms^ lying on the f^irnd, meas- 
ured more than two hundred feet in length,'" The delicate 
branches of these noble trees enhvine themselves above the 
beech and elm; their fine, dense and evergreen foli^e, 
forming an arch through which the sun's rays never 
penetrate; and this lofty vault, supported by thousands 
of columns, brought to the mind's eye, tlie idea of an 
immense, glorious temple, carpeted with the hardy ever- 
greens thai live and flourish beat in the shade. 

Before entering the forest wc crossed a high mountain hy 
a wild winding path. Its sides are covered with fine cedars 
and pines^ which arc, however, of smaller dimensions than 
those in the forest. Several times whilst ascending the 
mountain I found myself on parapets of rocks, whence, 
thanks to my safe-footed mule, I retired in safety. Once I 
(i38] thought my career at an end- I had wandered from 
my companions, and following the path, I aU al once came 
to a nxk.y projection which terminated in a point about 
two feet wide; before me n^s a perpendicular descent of 
three feel; on my left stood a rock as straight as a wall, and 
on my right yawned a precipice of about a thousand feet — 
You can conceive that my situation was anj'thing hut 
pleasant* The slightest false step would have pixmged the 
mule and his rider into the abyss beneath. To descend 
was impossible^ as on one side I was closed in b)- the rock, 
and suspended over a dreadful chasm on the other. My 

ttfttjert o! Ihe Uud^n's Bay Company, ll i» now cn>i«ed by the NorUsere P«cj[bc 
Rjiiliray« Aod alcxmcra ply upoo its *AUrar — Ed. 

^" Tbu u the Oregon cvlIu (7^1170 giganitu), which fttUlu NkM mo «h1 u 
■ridtly ili(Tui(d oa tlic tiaat-Rocky ngiaa.-— Bo. 


ig4i'ifl4?] De Smft's Leiiers and Siftchi 341 

mule had stopped at the commencement of the descent, and 
not having any time to lose, 1 recommended myself to God, 
a.nd as a last expedient sunk my spurs deeply into the sides 
of my poor beast; she made one bold leap and safely landed 
me on another parapet much targer than that 1 bad left. 

The history of the fine forest, and my leap from the danger* 
ous rock, will be treated with incredulity by many of your 
acquaintance. If so. lell them that I invite them to visil 
both these places; '^Vetdte et vidcte»" I promise them 
before hand that they will admire willi me the wonders 
of naiure. They will have, like me, their moments of 
admiration and of fear. 1 cat^not pass over in silence the 
pleasant meeting 1 had in the depth of the forest. 1 dis- 
covered a little hut of rushes, situatei] on the banks of the 
liver. Raising my voice to its highest pitch, I tried to make 
its inhabitants hear me, but received no answer. I felt 
an irresistible desire to visit it, and acconlingly made my 
interpreter accompany me- We found il occupied by a 
poor old woman, who was blind, and very ill. I spoke to 
her of the Great Spirit, of the most essential dogmas of our 
faith, and of baptism. The example of the Apostle Sl 
[1S9] Philip teaches us that there are cases when all the 
requisite dispositions may entirely consist in an act of faith, 
and in the ancerc desire to enlcr Heaven by the right path. 
All the answers of the poor old woman were respectful, and 
breathing the love of God. "Yes/' she would say, "I 
love the Great Spirit with my whole heart; all my life he 
has been very kind to me. Yes, I wish to be His child, I 
want to be His forever." And immediately she fell on her 
knees, and be^ed me to give her baptism* I named her 
Mary, and placed around her neck the miraculous medal 
of the Blessed Virgin- After leaving her, I overheard her 
thanking God for this fortunate adventure. I had scarcely 
regained the path, when I met her husband, almost bent 


Early Western Travels 

tVol, »7 

to the earth hy age and infirmity; he could haidly drag him- 
self along, He had bctii s<rtting a trap in the forest for the 
bucks. The Flat Heads who had preceded me, had told 
him of my arrival. As soon, therefore, &5 he perceived me. 
he began to cry out^ with a trembling voice: '^Oh how 
delighted I am lo see our Father before I die- The Great 
Spirit is good— oh how happy my heart is." And the 
venerable old man pressed my hand most affectionately, 
repeating again and again the same expressions. Tears 
fell from my eyes on witnessing such affection. I told him 
that I had just left his hui, and had baptized his wife. "I 
heard/* said he, "of your arrival in our mountains^ and of 
your baptizing many of our people. I am poor and old; 
I had hardly dared to hope for the happiness of seeing you. 
Black-gown, make me as happy as you have made my wife. 
I wish also to belong to God, and we will always love Him." 
I conducted him (o the borders of a stream that flowed near 
US, and after a brief instniction, I administered to him the 
Holy Sacrament of Baptism, naming him Simon, On see- 
ing me depart, he repeated, impressively: [190] '*Oh how 
good is the Great Spirit. I thank you, Skylax, (Black- 
gown) for the favor you have conferred on me. Oh how 
happy is my heart. Yes, I will alwa>'s love the Great Spirit. 
Oh how good the Great Spirit is; how good He is.*^ Dur- 
mg that same journey, I discovered in a little hut of bul- 
rushes, five old men, who appeared to be fourscore years 
old. Three of them were blind, and the other two had but 
one eye each; they were almost naked, and offered a real 
personification of human misery. I spoke to ihem for a 
considerable time on the means of salvation, and on the 
bliss of another world. Their answers edified me much, 
and affected me even to tears; they were replete with the 
bve of God, a desire of doing rifihc, and of dying wcIL 
You might have heard these good old men crying out from 

TS4i.ift4^1 Df Smet's Letters and Sketchfr 

different parts of the hut, forming together a touching 
chonis, to which I sincerely wished that all the children of 
St. Ignatius could have listened, "Oh Great Spirit, what a 
happiness is coming to us in our old days 1 We vv-ill love you, 
O Great Spirit. Le-meU Kaikdin^oeten; one U-meU elUtUt, 
We will love you, O Great Spirit, Yes, we will love you 
until death." When wc explained to them the necessity of 
haptism, they demanded it earnestly, and knelt down lo re- 
ceive it< I have not found as yet amongst these Indians, I 
mil not say opposition, but not even coldness or indifference. 
These little adventures are our great consolation. I would 
not have exchanged my situation, at that moment, for any 
other on earth. I was convinced that such incidents aJone 
were worth a journey to the mountains. Ah, good and 
dear Fathers, who may read these lines. I conjure ynu, 
through the mercy of our Divine Redeemer, not lo hesitate 
eDtering this vineyard; its han'cst is ripe and abundant 
Docs not our Saviour tell us: **Igncm vcni mittere in tcr- 
ram et quid volo nisi ut accendatur." [>9i] It is amidst 
the poor tribes of these isolated mountains that the fire 
of divine grace bums with ardor. Superstitious practices 
have disappeared; nor have they amongst them the castes 
of East India, Speak lo these Savages of heavenly things; 
at once their hearts are inflamed with divine love; and 
immediately they go seriously about the great affair of their 
salvation. Day and night they arc at our sides, insatiable 
for the "Bread of Life." Often, on retiring, we hear them 
say, "Our sins, no doubt, rendered us so long unworthy to 
hear these consoling Words/^ As to privations and dangers, 
Bie Oregon Missionaries must expect them, for (hey will 
certainly meet them, but in a good cause. Sometimes they 
will be obliged to fast, but a better appetite will be their 
reward. Their escapes from the many dangers of the road, 
or from enemies always on the alert, teach them to confide 


Barfy Wattm TravtU 


in God alone, and ever to keep their accounts in order. I 
here fee] tli^ full application of that consnling text of the 
Scripture: "My yoke is sweet, and my burden is Hghi," 
At tbe East day it will be manifest that the holy name of 
Jcflus has performed wonders amongst these poor people. 
Their eagerness to hear the glad tidings of salvation is cer- 
tainly at its height. They came from all parts, and from 
great distances, to meet me on my way, and prcscntctl all 
their young children and dying relatives for baptism. Many 
followed me for whule days, with the sole desire of receiv- 
ing instnjction& Really our hearts bled at the sight of so 
many soub who arc lost for the want of religion's divine 
and saving assista^nce. Here again may we cry out with 
the Scripture: "The harvest indeed is great, but the laborers 
are few." What Father is there in the Society whose zeal 
will not be enkindled on hearing these details? And where 
is the Christian who would refuse his mite to such [192] a 
work as that of the " Propagation of the Faith ?" that precious 
pearl of the Church, which procures salvation to so many 
souls, who otherwise would perish unaided and forrver. 
During my jotiniey, which lasted fi»rly-two days, I baptized 
190 persons, of whom ^6 were adults, ^ck, or In extreme 
old age; I preached to more than two thou^nd Indians; 
who thus e\'icicntly conducted into my way by IV>vidence. 
will not, r trust, tarry long in ranging themselves under the 
banner of Jesus Christ. With the assistance of my catechists* 
the Flat Heads, who were as yet but catechumens, the con- 
version of the Kalispel tribe was so far advanced that when 
the time came round for the winter's hunting, the Rev. 
Father Point enjoyed the consolation of seeing them join 
the Flat Head tribe, with the sole desire of profiting by the 
Missionary's presence. This gave him an opfx^iiuntty to 
instruct and baptise a great number on the Purification and 
on the Feasts of the Canonization of St. Ignatius and St. 

1^4 '-1^4'] i^^ Strut's Letters and Sketches 


Francis XaWer. On my return, the 8lh of December,'" 
1 continued mstrucling ihose of ihe Flat Heads who had 
not been baptized. On Christmas day 1 added 150 new 
baptisms to those of the 3d of December, and 33 rchabili- 
tatioii5 of nmrriage; wi that the Fkl Heads, some sooner 
and others later, but all, with very few exceptions, had, in 
the space of three months, complied with every thing neces- 
aary to merit the i^lonous title of true children of God. Ac- 
conlingly on Christmas eve, a few hours before the midnight 
Mass, the village of St, Mjiry wasdeema] worthy of a special 
mark of heaven's favour: The Blessed Virgin appeared to 
a little orphan boy named Pftul, in the hut of an aged and 
truly pious woman. — The youlh^ P'^'y ^^^ sincerity of 
this child, joined to the nature of the fact ^vhJcb he related, 
forbade us to doubt the truth of his statement. The follow* 
ing is what he recounted [193] to mc with his own innocent 
lips: ''Upon entering John's hut, whither I had gone to 
learn my prayers^ which [ did not know, I ^w some one 
who was very beautiful — her feet did not touch the earth, 
her garments were as white as snow; she had a star over 
her head, a serpent under her feet; and near the seTjwrnt 
was a fruit which I did not recognise. I could see her heart, 
from which rays of light burst forth and shone upon me. 
When I tirst beheld all this 1 was frightened, bul afterwards 
my fear left me; my heart was warmed, my mind clear, 
and I do not know how it happened, but all at once I krww 
my prayers." (To be brief I omit several circumstances.) 

'^'Tbe ongiiul PrrDch itn cd the Irtlef dcKrjbing ihb Jouniey viU tc found 
in VvyafTi chm M^nicfntt Rft-Atiurt fO^iLKcuIcti mil RiilutnlfUiit DcSwut.i. jip. 
354'j^S); It gtvei jbiHltiitnitl itiliimiJilinn ivgnMini; the rnnAiml'i ni |hv jnunv^. 
Having urived aX L^kt Pehd d'OrnUc on Novflubfi i, the UutcIIct vu ifartc 
d*ji fHL$atnt ihc Usvtric. Scivcukbu 13 4 bi^ muunuin nai cruned. aod 
bf fnuhinf fthod, ao£ marr long dtf^ fatinwy Ivnugbl hftn to Fnrt CHrillp 
vWv ht vu hotpiublr rnltrtuDtd by the Hui]«oQ*» Baj fMlOr^ Tbfi Mun 


E^riy fVesUm Trav€lj 

\S<A- 27 

He ended his account hy saying that several times the same 
person hsui appeared to him whilst be was steeping- and 
that once s^he had told him she wis pleased, that the iirst 
village of the Fbl Heads should be called ''St. M^ry.'* The 
child bid never seen or heard before any thing of the kind; 
he did not ev^n know if the person whs a man or woman, 
because the appearance of the dress which she wore was 
entirely unknown to him- Several persons having inter- 
rogated the child on this subject, have found him unvaiy 
tng in his answers He conlinu<?s by his conduct lo be the 
angel of his tribe. 

On the 23d of December. Father Point, at the head of the 
inhfibitants of forty lodgu. started for the buffalo hunt. — 
On Che road they met viith huntsmen of five or six different 
tribes, some of whom followed him to the termination of 
the chase, from the desire of learning their prayers. The 
Flat Heads having prolonged their stay at St. Mary*s as 
long as they possibly could, so as not lo depart vrithout receiv- 
ing baptism, experienced such a kmine, the first weeks of 
January, that their poor dogs, having not even a bone lo 
gnaw, devoured itie very straps of leather with which they 
ttcd their horses during the night^ The cold moreover was 
[194] 50 uninterruptedly severe that during the hunting sea- 
son, which lasted lliree months, such a quantity of snow fell 
that many were attacked with a painful blindness, vulgarly 
called *'snow disease." One day when the wind was very 
high, and the snow falling and freezing harder than usual. 
Father Point became suddenly very pale, and would no 
doubt have been frozen to death, in the midst of the plain^ 
had not some travellers, perceiving the change m his coun- 
tenance, kindled a large fire. But neither the wind, ice, 
or famine, prevented the zealous Flat Heads from perform- 
ing on this journey all they- were accustomed to do at St 
Mary's. Every morning and evening they assembled around 

1841-1843] iV Smef*s Lttttrs and Skitchfs 


the Missionary's !odge, and more ihan three-fourths of them 
without any shelter than the sky, after having recited their 
prayers, listened to an instruction^ preceded and foHowcd 
by hymns. At day-break and sunset the bcU ^ras tolled 
three tinier for the Angelical Salutation. The Sunday was 
religiously kept; an observance which was so acceptable 
to God, t^^l once especially it was recompensed in a very 
visible iranner. The following b what I read in the Jour- 
nal kept by Father Point during the winter's hunt. 

Sixth Februcry. — To-day, Sunday, a very high wind, 
the sky greyish, and the thermometer at the freezing point; 
DO grass for the horses; the buffalos driven off by the 
Pierced Noses. The jth, the cold more piercing — food 
for our horses still scarcer — the snow increasing; but yes- 
terday was a time of perfect rest, and the fruits of it show 
themselves to-day in perfect reagnation and confidence. 
At noon we reached the summit of a mountain, and what a 
change awaits us. The sun shines, the cold has lost its 
intensity; we have in ^'icw an inunense plain, and in that 
plain good pasturages, which are clouded with buffalos. 
The encampment stops, the hunters assemble, and before 
[igj] sunset 155 buffalos have fallen by their arrows. One 
must confess that if this bunt were not miraculous, it bears 
a great resemblance to (he draught of fishes made by Peter 
when casting his net at the word of the Lord, he drew up 
153 fishes,— St» John, xxi. 11. The VhX Heads confided 
in the Lord, and were equally successful in killing 153 
buffalos. What a fine draught of fishes! but what a glori- 
ous hunt of buffalos! Represent to yourself an immense 
amphitheatre of mountains, the least of which exceeds in 
height Mont Martre/^' and in the midst of this majestic 

*'■ Mobtauitrt is the hlghpal poinl in ihe dty ol Poris, thnc ht)fldrt<l ftnd thirty 
feet ttxivc Ihc SoaCi md dumLOBtrrt the cntiic cJl/- la icv:cnt yr«iE « Uj^fc rbviiJ) 
hai been buElt upon Iti aununii.— En. 


Early WetWn Travels 


enclosure a plain more extensive than that of Pans, and on 
this magnificent plum a multttudc of animals, the least of 
whicli surpasses in size the largest o^ in Eutuix' Such wa» 
the pgu'k in which our Indians hunted. Wishing to pursue 
them, continues Father Point, in his journal, 1 urged on 
my horse to a herd of fugitives* and as he was fresh, I had 
no difficulty in getting up to them. I even succeeded in 
compelling the foremost to abandon his post, bu: enraged, 
he stopped short, and presented such a terrible front, that 
I thought it more prudent to open a passage and let him 
escape, 1 acteii wisely, as on the same day, one of these 
animaUi in hifi fall, overturned a horse and his rider. For- 
tunately, however, the latter was more dexterous than I 
should have been in such a perQous situation, he aimed 
his blows 90 promptly and well, that of the three who were 
thrown^ only two arose. On another occasion, a hunter 
who had been also dismounted, had no other means to 
avoid l>eing torn to pieces than to seize hold of the animal 
by the horns just at the time he was about to trample him 
to death, A third hunter, Geeing at all speed, felt himself 
stopped by the plaited tail of his horse hooked on the 
buQhlo^s horn ; but Ix^th (earing a tnip, made every eflorl to 
disengage themselves. The buffalo hum is attended with 
[tg6] dangers, but the greatest of these does not consist in the 
mere pursuit of the animal^ but proceeds rather from Ihe 
bands of Black Feet who constandy lurk in these regions, 
especially when there is some prospect of meeting with the 
larger game, or stealing a number of horses. Of all the 
mountain savages the Black Feet are the most numerous, 
wicked, and the greatest thieves- Happily, however, from 
having been often beaten by the smaller tribes, they have 
become so dastardly, that unless they arc twenty to one, 
they confine their attacks to the horses, which» thanks to 
the carelessness of their courageous enemies, they go about 

1841-1B41] Dff Smet'j LetUrs anJ Sketches 

35 X 

with so much dexicrily and success, that this year, while 
our good Fiat Heads were asleep, ihey disn)vercd their 
animals as often as twenty limes, and carried off more than 
one hundred of them. During the winter, about twenty 
of these gentlemen visited the Flat Heads in the day time, 
and without stealing any thing, but in this manner. There 
resided in the camp an old chief of the Black Feet tribe, 
who had been baptised on Christmas day, and named 
Nicholas- this good savage, knowing that the Missionary 
would willingly hold an interview wilh his brethren, under* 
took himself to harangue them during the night, and so 
well did he acquit himself, that upon the calumet's being 
planted on the limits of the camp, and the messenger being 
admitted to an audience, singing was heard in the neigh- 
boring mountains, and soon after a band of these brigands 
issued, armed as warriors, from the gloomy defile, They 
were received as friends, and four of the principals were 
ushered into the Missionary's lodge; they smoked the calu- 
met and discussed the news of the day. The Missionary 
spoke of the necessity of prayer, to which subject tiicy 
listened most attentively; nor did they manifest either sur- 
prise or repugnance. They told him that there had arrived 
[197] recently in one of their forests a man who was not 
miirried, and who Wore on his breast a large crucifix, read 
every day in a big book, and made the sign of ihe crosa 
before eating any thing; and in fine, that he was dressed 
exactly like the Black-gowns at St. Mary's, The Father 
did every thing in his power to gain Ihcir good will ^ after 
which, they were conducted to the best lodge in the encamp- 
ment. It certainly would seem that such hosts were worthy 
of better guests. However, towards the middle of the night, 
the eiplosion of 6re arms was he»rd. It was soon dis- 
covered that a Flat Head was firing at a Black Foot, just 
as the latter was leaving the camp, taking with him four 


Early Wesurn Travels 


horses* — Fortunately, the robber wai* not one of the band 
thitt had been received withio the encampment, which, 
upon being proved, far from acating any suspicion, on the 
tontrary, had the effect of their kindly offering them a grave 
for the unfortunate man. But whether the)' wished to 
appear to disapprove of the deed, or that they anticipated 
dangers from reprisals, they left the ^-olvc* to bury the body, 
antl took their dt-parlure. Good Nicholas, the orator, joined 
them^ in order to render the same services to the others that 
he had to these. He went off, promising to return soon 
with the evidences of his success. He has not been seen 
as yet, but we are informed, he and his companions have 
spoken so favorably of prayer, and the Black-gowns^ that 
already the Sunday i<% religiously observed in the camp 
where Nicholas resides, and that a great chief, with the 
people of sbcty lodges, intend shortly to make our acquaint- 
ance, and attach themselves to the Flat Heads. In the 
meanwhile, divine justice is punishing rigorously a number 
of their robbers. This year» the Pierced NoscA caught 
twdve of them in flagrant faults, and kQled them. About 
the time that the Black Foot above mentioned met his bte 
at [198] the hands of a Flat Head, Ihiily others were receiv- 
ing Ihe reward due to their crimes, from the Pendsd'oreilles 
tribe. A very remarkable fact in this last encounter ts, 
that of the four who commenced, and the others who finished 
it, not one fell; although, in order to break in on the delin- 
quents, who were retrenchtd behind a kind of rampart, 
they were obliged to expose themselves to a brisk fire, I 
saw the field of combat some time aFteni\-ards. Of the 
thirty robbers who had been slain, only five or six heads 
remained, and those so disfigured as to lead one to think 
that an age had already elapsed since their death. 

Two years before, the same tribe, (Pcnds-d'orcillcs) 
assisted by the Flat Heads, making in all a band of seventy 

1841-1^49] Df Sfftfr's LeIUrs and Skefchej 


men, stood an attack of fift»n hundred Black Fi*l, whom 
they defeated, killing in five days^ during which time the 
battle lasted, fifty of their foes, without losing a single man 
on their ^de_ They would not conimencc the attack until 
they had recited their prayers on their knws, A few tl^ys 
ago, the spot was pointed out to me where six Flat He^ds 
withstood 160 Black Feet with so much resolution, that 
with a handful of their men who came to their aid, they 
gained the vicloiy- The most perfidious nation, after the 
Black Feet, is the Banac tribe; they also bear the Flat 
Heads much iU wUL It has happened more than once that 
at the very moment the Banac tribe were receiving the 
greatest proofs of friendship from the Flat Heads, the former 
were plotting their ruin. Of this you have ah^eady had 
one proof, but here is another. One day a detachment of 
two hundred Banacs visited the camp of the Flat Heads, 
and after smoking with them returned to their encamp- 
ment. I'he small numt)er of the Flat Heads had not, bow- 
cvcTj escaped iheir notice^ and they determined to take 
advantage of their apparent weakness. Accordingly, they 
[199] rctmced their steps that very night to execute their 
base designs. But the chief, named Michael, having been 
advised of tlieir intention, a^embled in haste his twenty 
warriors, and after entreatir^ them to confide in God^ he 
rushed on these traitors so happily and vigorously, that at 
the first shock they were routed. Already nine of the fugi- 
tives had faQen, and most of the others would have shared 
the same fote if Michael, in the very heat of the pursuit, 
had not recollected that it was Sunday, and on that account 
stopped his brave companions^ ^yitig : '* My frirnds, it 
is now the time for prayer; we must retire to our camp," 
It is by these and similar exploits, wherein the finger of 
God is visible, thai the Flat Heads have acquired such a 
reputation for valor, that notwithstanding their inferior 

354 Eariy WcsUm TraveU [Vol. a; 

numbers, thcr are feared much more than they on their 
liide (Irftiri their hiltenest en^mies^, The-Hc viclone* hoMr- 
ever cannot but be fatal even to the conquerors; hence we 
will slrivc to inspire &II with the love of peace, which may 
Ijc accompliHhcd if raich party remains at home. For ihis 
purport we must crealcatnang them a greater taste for agri- 
culture than for huntings But how can we compass this 
unless the same measures arc employed for the missions 
of the Rocky Mountains that were so happily adopted for 
Faraway. If the true friends of Religion only knew of 
what the Indians who sunound us arc capable when once 
converted, 1 can not doubt but that they would assist us 
in our efforts to accomplish so beautiful, so advantageous 
a project. It is» moreover, through the Iroquois of the 
North, whose cruelty formerly eweeded that of the Black 
Feet, that the knowledge of the true God came to the Flat 
Heads, and awakened amongst them the desire of posseiss- 
ing the Black-gowns^ We have seen to what dangers the 
good Flat Heads exposed themselves to obtain Missionaries, 
[300] and what sacrifices they have made to merit the title 
of children of God; and now what is their actual progress? 
In their village, enmities, quarrels and calumnies, are un- 
known; they are sincere and upright amongst themselves, 
and full of confidence in their Missionaries. They carry 
this to such a degree that they place implicit reliance on 
their veracity, and cannot suppose that they have any thing 
else in view but their happiness; they have no difficulty 
in tjelieving the mysleries of our faith, or in approaching 
the tribunal of penance: difficuUies which appear insur- 
mountable to the pride and cowardice of many civilized 
christians. The first lime they were asked if they believed 
firmly in all that was contained in the Apostles' creeds they 
ansnxred, "Yes — very much/' WTien they were spoken 
to about confession, some wished it to be public — This 

1841-1843I De Smcfs Letters and Sketches 


will explain to you how it happened that before wc resided 
three months amongst ihem wr were enabled lo baptuc 
ail the adults, and four months later tu admit a larf;e num- 
ber to frequent communion. There are ^-hole families 
yrho never let a Sunday go by without approaching the 
holy table. Often twenty confessions are heard consecu- 
tively without their being nutter for absolution. This 
year we performed the devotion of the month of Mary, 
and 1 can Ratter myself that the exercises were attended 
with as much piety and edification af» in the most devout 
parishes of Europe. At the end of the month a statue was 
bomc in triumph to the very place where our Blessed Mother 
designed to honor us with the aforementioned apparition. — 
Since that day a sort of pilgrimage has been established 
there, under the name of "Our Lady of Prayer." None 
pass the pious monument without stopping to pray on their 
knees; the more devout come regularly twice a day to speak 
to their Mother and her divine Son, ard the children [201] 
add to their prayers the most beautiful flowers they can 
cull in the prairies. 

On the Feast of the Sacred Heart we made use of this 
monument^ decorated with garlands of Bowers, as a reposi- 
tory, and our people received for the 6rsi time, the bene- 
diction of the blessed sacmmcnl; a happiness which they 
now enjoy every Sunday after vcspcra. Some of them 
already understand the nature of the devotion of the Sacred 
Heart. To propagate it we have bid the foundations of 
several societies, of which ail the most virtuous men. women 
and young people have become members. Victor, the 
great chief, is prefect of one of these associations, and Agnes 
his wife is president of another They were not elected 
through any deference for their dignity or birth, but solely 
on account of iheir gieal personal merits,"' A fact which 

*** Victor, bcmUUTT chicl at the FUtbcadar aac<Rded Piml {<a Bif Tktt) Ln 


Eariy tVeitfm Traw.s 


proves that the Fl^ Heads regard merit more than rank, 
is, that th€ place of great chief bctrnning vacant by the 
death of Peter, ihcy chose for his !»uccc--ssor the chief of the 
men's society, and for no other rtason did be obtain this 
high dignity than for the noble qualities^ both of hcsjt and 
head, which they aU Ihoughl he pO!»cssed. Evrry night 
and morning, when all U quiet in the c:imp^ he liamngues 
the people; the subject of his discourse being principally 
a repetition of what the Black Gowns have said before. 
Thi^ good chief w^ilks faithfully in Uit footsteps of liis pre- 
decessor, which is no slight praise. This last, who was 
baptized at the age of &o, and admitted to communion in 
biA S^d year, w&a the first to deserve this double favour, 
more on account of his virtue than his years- The day of 
his baptism he said lo mc, "If during my life I have com- 
mitted faults they were those of ignorance; it appears to 
me that I never did any thing, knovnng it to be wrong." 
At the time of his first communion, which preceded bis 
death but [302] a few days, having been asked if he had 
not some faults with which to reproach himself since hU 
baptism — "Faults,*' he replied, with surprise, " how could 
I ever commit any, I whose duty it is to teach others how 
to do good?" He was buried in the red drriper>* he was 
accustomed to hang out on Sunday to announce thai it was 
the day of the LonJ, Alphonsus, in the prime of youth, 
soon followed him. He said to me on the day of his bap- 
tism: *'I dread 90 much offending again the Great Spirit* 
that I beg of him lo grant me the grace to die soon." He 
fell ack a few days afterwards and expired with the most 

tluf offict, which h» wtiinwl vlih dignity t^nd ■hiUty unUl hi* d«ih in iSjo, whtn 
he wiu in mm iiuc<:rcdc4l bjr hi* tan^Chnrlol, H4- mbg fc cuiutitrnl fnend of ibr 
MrhiUBi many of ihc cD-rEy pionvcn of MunUa& Icstifying to kis kiodana dnd !□' 
(«STi(y Itii viit^ Ap^r* rprnvmbprvd the <nmjna of Lrvia «nd Clifk xtt ihdr 
covutry; •» O. D. Wboeler, On Ihc Tntti «/ Iav^ and Ctofk (Nv« york)^ ik 
p. 65. — iLo. 

iS4t'i843] De Smi^i Letters and Shtchs 


ChristiaD clispofiilionSj thanking GoA for having grnnted 
his prayer. In the hope of their glorious resurrection, their 
mortal remains have been deposited at the foot of the large 

Of twCTity persons who dtird within the year, we have 
no rca£on to fear for the salvation of one. 

Not having been able this year to obtain cither provisions 
or sufficient clothes to supply the wants of our mission, I 
fltarled for Fort Vancouver, the great mart of the honorable 
Hudson Bay Company, and distant about one thousand 
miles from our cstabhshment. Tht continuation of this 
narrative will show you that this necessary journey was 
providential. I found myself during this trip a second time 
amongst the Kalispel tribe. 

They continue with much fervour to assemble every mom- 
ing and evening to recite prayers in oimmon, and manifest 
the same attention and assiduity in listening to our instruc- 
tions. The chiefs on their side are incessant in exhorting 
the [>eoplc to the practice of every good work. The two 
principal obstacles that prevent a great number from receiv- 
ing baptism, are — first, the plurality of wives; many have 
not the courage to separate themselves from those, by whom 
they have children. The second is their [203] fondness for 
gambling^ in which they risk every thing. I bapUzed 60 
adults amongst them during this last journey. 

Cros^ng a beautiful plain near the Clarke or Flat Head 
river, called the Horse piairie, I heard that there were y} 
lodges of the SIcalzy or Kcctenay tribe, at about two day's 
journey from us."* Idetermined whilst awaiting the descent 

^ For HoEH Ptiizi* (pUia) tM oafr, p. 3361 nol* 17>- For tb« CuUn&l m> 
^<u^* Onpi'% Stitkr9^ b tnir Tolunifi iij. p, iii, titM ^x Id vJdltbn, note that 

Ibc iLUtFriiLt (aIscj cjJled SkolzO ui^ ■ diU&nci Unguisbc itock. kru»m u Kiturulun, 
'niriF hibitAl ^TM chitflif in Brttlih umiary: hul bccaute of lOlUaf* *^tb tb* 
Flatlicad atad other SnUshAn tnbe« tbc]r Erctiumlly inLDdcrtd •outhv^rd^ A fw 
sn «tin 00 Che FUibMd mtrvctimi In MonUAs: tiui about 6vr hundrvd ■nd 


Early H^isttm Travels 


of the skiS, which could only stan six days later, to paf 
them a TOit, for they had nc^cr seen a prical in their Umds 
before. Two half breeds served as my guides and escorts 
on this occasion- We galloppcd and trotted all the day, 
travelling a distance of 60 miles. Wc spent a quiet night 
in a deep dctUc, stretched near a good fare, but in the open 
air. Tlir nr\t day, {April 14) after having traversed several 
mountains and valleys, where our horses were up to their 
knees in snow, we arrived about 3 o'clock in sight of the 
Kcctcnay camp. They assembled immediately on my 
appn^Hch; when T was about twenty yards from them, Ihe 
warriors presented their arms, which they had hidden until 
then under their buffalo robes. They fired a general salute 
which frightened my mute and made her rear and pmnce 
to the great amusemenl of the savages. They then defiled 
before me, giving their hands in token of friendship and 
congratulation. I observed that each one lifted his hand 
to his forehead after having presented it to me. I soon con- 
voked the council in order to infonn them of the object of 
my visit. They unanimously declared themselves in favour 
of my religion, and adopted the beautiful custom of their 
neighbourSf the Flat Heads, to meet night and morning 
for prayers in common. I assembled them that very even- 
ing for this object and gave them a long instruction on the 
principal dogmas of our faith. The nejct day^ 1 Iraptizcd 
aU their little children and nine of their adults, previoudy 
instructed, amongst whom was the wife of an Iroquois, [204] 
who had resided for thirty years with this tribe. The Iro- 
quois and a Camidian occupy themselves in ihe alisence of 
a priest in instructing them, ^ty vidt could not be long. 
I left the Kcetenay village about 12 o'clock, accompanied 
by twelve of these warriors and some half-blood Crees, 

lifty 'r^qufnl the KvlfniJ ■gpciry in Briiiih CohitnbEa. llwyiirr- ibMVljr all Clh. 
oUci. — Ed. 

i84' i84»] Df SmeS^j Lititri and Skttchfs 


whom I had baptised in 1840. They wished to escon me 
to Ihe entrance of the large Flat Head lake/" with the desire 
of giving me a farewell fea^t; a real txinquct of all the good 
things their country produced. The warriors had gone on 
ahead and disper^ in every direction, some to hunt and 
others to &sh- The latter only succeeded in catching a 
single trout. The warriors returned in the evening with a 
bear, goose, and sii swanks eggs. "Sed quid hoc inter 
tantos.'' The iish and goose were roasted before a good 
fire, and the whole mess was soon presented to mc^ Most 
of my com]](inions preferring to fast, 1 rjt(jrcs?*d my regret 
at it, consoling them however by lelling them that God 
would certainly reward their kindness to me. A moment 
after wc heard the last hunter returning, whom we thought 
had gone back to the Gtmp. Hope shone on every counte- 
nance. The warrior soon appeared laden with a large ellc, 
and hunger that night was banished from the camp. Each 
one began to occupy himself; some cut up the animal, 
others heaped fuel on the fire, and prepared sticks and spits 
to roast the meat. The feast which had commenced under 
such poor auspices continued a great part of the night- The 
whole animal, excepting a small piece that was reserved 
lor my breakfast, had diiappeartd before they retired to 
deep. This is a sample of savage life. The Indian when 
he has nothing to cat docs not complain, but in the midfst 
of abundance he knows no moderation. The stomach of 
a savage has always been to me a riddle. 

The plain that commands a view of the lake is one of 
the [205] roost fertile in the mountainous regions. ITic 
Flat Head river runs through it and extends more than «X) 
miles to the North East. It is wide and deep, abounding 

*** FliiUicvd L*Lc U M. bEtdUcDJjiK gi/ chr river of that nanif, kftd lies noclhMM 
cf ih« pnHfni Fldrhful fratrvAiIan tt li iboui Twrnly'^ghi milpi long, wtlb 
■fl ■vtnge breadth of ten, Uhl i» itixJdcd with bvAUCilvl iiUftda- — En. 


Earfy Weitem Travels 

[Vol. .7 

with fish and linwi wiih wood, principally with the conon, 
ofipcn, [HiK and birch* There arc beautiful sites for nllagcs, 
but the vicimty of the Black Feet must delay for a long wUIc 
the good work, as they are only al Iwt) day's march from 
the great district occupied by these brigands, from whence 
they often issue to pay their neighbours predatory visits. 
A second obstarJc would be the great diMance from any post 
of the Hudson Bay Company; conse<)uently the difficulty 
of procuring what is strictly necessary. The take is high^ 
romantic, and ia from 40 to 50 miles long. MountainouA 
and rocky islands of all %\zts arr scattrrnl over \is bosom, 
which present an enchanting prospect. These islands are 
filled with wild horses. Lofty mountains surround the 
take and rise from its very brink. 

On the 16th of April, after bidding adieu lo my traveHiog 
companions^ I started early in the morning, accompanied 
by tvro Canadians and two savages. That evening vrc en- 
camped close to a delightfal spring, which was warm and 
sulphurous;^*' having travelled a distance of about fifty 
miles. When the savages reach this spring they generally 
bathe Ln it. They told me that after the fatigues of a long 
journey they find that bathing in this water greatly refreshes 
them. I found here ten lodges of the Kalispel tribe; the 
chief, who was by binh of the Pierced Nose tribe, invited 
me to spend the night in his wigwam, where he treated mc 
most hospitably. This was the only small Kalispel camp 
that I had ss yet met in my journeys. I here established, 
as I have done wherever I stopped, the custom of morning 
and evening prayers. During the evening the chief who 
had looked very gloomy, made a public exposition of {ta6\ 
his whole life. "Black Govm/' said he, "you find your- 

>* ThU lioC 4pring i« in tba tafltufl part tA Ute tlikthud rccervitiion, xtA bj 
ft utlbU cTTflk disdiuxu ^nt> the Uttk Blttcrroot RlvcTt an nBuonl of ibc 

iSii-ifl^j] i> Smt^t's Letters and SktUhe$ 


self in the lodge of a most wicked &nd unhappy man; all 
the evil that a man could do on earth, I bclifrvc I have been 
guilty of: I have even assas^ated several of my near rela 
tions; since then, there is nought in my heart but trouble, 
bitterness and remorse, Why does not the Great Spirit 
annihilate me ? I still possess life^ but there will be neither 
pardon nor mercy for me after death," These words and 
the feeling manner with which they were addressed to me 
drew tears of compassion from my eyes. " Poor, unfortunsite 
man/' I replied, *'you are really to be pitied, but you in- 
crease your misery by thinking that you cannot obtain 
pardon. The devii, man's evil spirit, is the author of this 
bad thought. Do not listen to him, for he would wish 
to precipitate you into that bad place (hell). The Great 
Spirit who created you is a Father infinitely good and merci- 
ful He does not desire the death of the sinner, hut rather 
that be shoiild be converted and live. He receives us into 
his favour and forgets our crimes^ notwithstanding their 
number and enormity, the moment wc return to Him con- 
trite and repentant He will also forgive you if you walk 
ID the path which His only Son, Jesus Christy came on 
earth to tmce for us/' I then recounted the instance of the 
good thief and the parable of the prodigal son. I made him 
sensible of the proof of God^s goodness in sending me to 
him. I added that perhaps his life was drawing to a close, 
and that he might be in danger of falling into the bad place 
on account of his sins; that I woukl show him the right 
path, which if he followed he would certainly reach Heaven. 
These few words were as balm poured on his wounded 
spirit. He l)ecame calmer, and joy and hope appeared on 
his oountenance, *' Black Gown/' said he, '*your words 
re-animate me: I see, I understand better now, you have 
[307) consoled me, you have relieved me from a burden that 
was cnishing me with its weight, for I thought myself tost. 


Early fVaUm Travels 

[Vol 37 

of the J 
ceplion, J 

I will follow your dir^tions; I wlU leam how 10 pray. Y 
i feel convinced that the Great Spirit will have pttv on me. 
There w&a fonunalcly in the camp a young man who k 
all the prayers^ and was wiUtag to serve as his cat 
His baptism was deferred until the autumn or winter^ 

The results of my visit to the Pointed Hearts were v 
con*io]ing. They form a small but interesting tribe, ani 
mated with much fervour- 

As soon as they were certain of my visits they deputed 
coiiricrs in c^^ciy direction to inform the savaf^es of the 
approach of the BUck-gown; and all, wi[hotiC rxcrptioo, 
assembled at the outlet of the Kreit take which bears 
name, and which was the place I had indicated."* Aa 
ingenuous joy, joined to wonder and contentment, shone 
on every face when ihey saw me arrive m the midfit of 
them. Ever>' one hastened to greet me. It was the first 
visit of the kind they had reccivedi and the following is the 
nrder they observed- Their chiefs and old men marched 
at the head; next came the young men and boys; then 
followed the women — mothers, young girls, and Bttl« 
chiklrcn. 1 was conducted in triumph by this multitude 
to the lodge of the great chief. Here, as every where else 
in the Indian country, the everlasting calumet was &rst 
produced, which went round two or three times in the 
most profound silence. Ilie chief then addressed vac, 
saying: "Black-gown you arc most welcome amongst us. 
We thank you for your charity towards us. For a long 
time we have wished to sec you, and hear the words which 
will give us understanding. Our fathers invoked the 
sun and earth. I recoUect very well when the knowledge 

'■ For thj* Uiu MX out irolunc *li', p, at, not* 75. Filhcr de Start c r oaa c J 
ihe mountaiai Cram Mianula Valiry by the ruulr ix>« fdh>ivcd hy th« Horthrrn 
PtdfiC Rftilwty ftlong Ibe stniun which be hidchnflpQ«<I SI Krgu A^npn, tfiRnigti 
St. Re^ PoMi coming out U[«n the bculwiUcn of Cttut d'Al^e River, trUch 
hp follower] to (be lalw of ih&l lume- — &D> 

ifl4i-i84>) Df Smft'j Letters and Sketches 


of the true and one God came amongst them; since which 
time we have oBcrcd [208] to Him our prayers and vows. 
Wc arc however to be pitied. We do not know the word 
of the Great Spirit. All is darkness as ycrt to us, but to-day 
I hope wc shall sec the light shine. Speak, Black-gown, 
1 have done — every one is anxious to hear you-'* I 
spoke to thcfoi for two hours on ^lalvation and end of man^s 
creation, and not one person stirred from his place the 
whole time of the bstruction. As it was aknost sunset, 
I rented the prayers that I had tninslaled Into their language 
a few days before. After which I took some refreshments, 
consisting of fragments of dried meat, and a piece of cooked 
moss, tasting like soap, and as black as pitch. All this 
however wa{4 as grateful to my palate as though it had 
been honey and sugar^ not having eaten a mouthful ^nce 
daybreak. At their own request I then continued instructing 
the chiefs and their people until the ni^t was far advanced. 
About every half hour I paused, and then the pipes would 
pass around to refresh the listeners and give time for 
reflection. It was during these intervals that the chiefs 
conversed on what they had beard, and instructed and 
advised their followers On awakening the next morning, 
I was surprised to find my lodge already filled with people. 
They had entered so quietly that 1 had not heard them. 
It was hajdly day-break when I arose^ and they all fol- 
lowing my example, placed themselves on their knees, 
and we niade together the offering of our hearts to God, 
with that of the actions of the day. After this the Chief 
flud: "Black-gown, wc come here very early to observe 
you — we wish to imitate what you do. Your prayer 
is good; we wish to adopt it. But you will leave us after 
two nights more, and we have no one to teach us in your 
absence." 1 bad the bell rung for morning praycTTi, prom- 
ising him at the same time that the prayers should be 


Earfy tf^iiem Travf/s 

[Vol- ,f 

known before i left them, [209] After a iong instruction on 
the most important tniths of religion, I collected around 
me all the little children, with the young boys and f^b; 
I chose two from among the latter, to whom I taught the 
Hail Ntary, assigning lo each onr Ws own paiticiilar part; 
then seven for the Our Father; ten othens (or the Com- 
mandments, and twelve for the Apostles' Creed. This 
mctbodf which was my first trial of it, succeeded admi- 
tmbly. I repeated to each one his part until he knew it 
perfectly; I then nmde him repeat It fve or six times. 
These little Indians^ forming a triangle, resembled a choir 
of angeK and recited their prayers, to the great astonish- 
ment and satisfaction of the savages. They continued 
in this manner morning and night, until one of the chiefs 
learned all the prayers, which he then repeated in public- 
I spent three days in instructing them. I would have 
remained longer, but the savages were without provisions. 
There was scarcely enough for one person in the whole 
camp. My own provisions were nearly out, and I was 
still four days' journey from Fort Colvillc. The second 
day of my stay among them, I baptized all their small 
children, and then twenty-four adults, who were infirm 
and very old. H appeared as though God had retained 
these good old people on earth to grant them the inex- 
pressible happiness of receiving the aacmment of baptism 
before their death. They seemed by their transports of 
joy and gratitude at this moment, to ejipress that senti- 
ment of the Scripture: "My soul is ready, O God, my 
soul is ready/^ Never did I experience in my visits to 
the savages so much satisfaction as on this occasion, not 
even when T visited the Flat Heads in 1840; nor have 
I elsewhere seen more convincing proofs of sincere con- 
version to God. May He grant them to persevere in 
their virtuous resolutions- Rev. Father Point intends 

iS4i'r^43l Df Smefs LitUrs and Sketchei 


passing the winter [210] with them to confirm them in 
their faith,'" After some advice and salutary rcgulalions, 
I left this interesting colony, and I must acknowledge, with 
heartfelt regret. The great chief allowed himself scarcely 
a moment's repose for three nights I spent anwngst tliem; 
he wotiid rise ftx>m time to time to baranf^e the 
people, and repeat to them all he was able to remember 
of the instructions of the day. During the whole time 
of my mis^oD, he continurd at my side, 90 anxious was 
he not to lose a single word. The old chief, now in his 
eightieth year, was baptized by the name of Jesse. In 
the spring the leiritoiy of this tribe enchants the traveller 
who may happen to traverse it. It ts so diverafied with 
noble plains, and enamelled with flowers, whose various 
forms and colors offer to experienced botanists an inter- 
esting parterre. These plains are surrounded by mag* 
nificenl forests of pine, fir and cedar. To the west their 
country is open, and the view extends over several days' 
joumcyn 'I'o the south, east and north, you see towering 
mountains, ridge rising above ridge, robed with snow^ 
and mingling their summits with the clouds, ^ra which, 
at a distance, you can hardly distinguish them. The 
lake forms a striking feature in this beautiful prospect, 
and is about thirty miles in drcumfcrcncc. It is deep, 
and abounds in fjsh, particularly in salmon trout, common 
trout, carp, and a small, oily fish, very delicious, and tasting 
like the smelt. The Spokan river rises in the lake, and 
crosses the whole plain of the Gtur d'AIcncs. The valley 

^ Th« (ttmktfi fouruSed by Father Point ic NvTvnbn, 194*, knovci m the 
Saon] Hon, vu successful Tbc silt wvb brst upon £l Jovph Rivrr, x fnMrr 
o* CiTitj d'\l*nt Lak^; but in t^^th jt »« rTTnon^Fd to 0>ut d'AKnt Ri^w, ai the 
prwont Calildc, Thm th* firal church «>d tuilt by th< ncnphyt« in ifljj, 
after dat&aa by F*lhci FU^^JU^ It ii attU a Undoivk ot thr lefj^n^ Tkv iHbn- 
mrn h«f! hren thvght ughrvhufr. niul Hvnl rhvnjr in log houHs; but the >oal 
being itcnle, (h» Runion WM bgain nmovtA to the uppcf imtcn of Haugmut'* 
CiHk, Id IdahO) whciv the Cceuf d'Altoc tliU rnldc upon tbnSi mrrrailon. — ED. 

1841-1843I Df Smei'j Ltiters and StrtcAes 


aeU chasms between two rocky mountaios of a stupendous 
height, the river pent in between them in a bed of thiity 
or forty feet, precipitating itself down its rocky channel 
with irresistible fury, roaring against its jagged sidc^ 
and whitening wilh foam all around it. In a short space 
it ^nds in four diflcrenl directions, rtsembling very much, 
forked lightning. It requires very great skill, activity, 
and presence of mind, to extricate yourself from this dif- 
ficult pass. The Spokan lands are sandy, gravelly, and 
badly calculated for agriculture. The section over which 
1 travelled consisted of immense plains of light, dry^ and 
sandy soil, and thin forests of gum pines. We saw nothing 
in this noiseless solitude but a buck^ running quickly from 
us, and disappearing [siq] almost immediately. From time 
to time, the mclanchoiy and piercing ciy of the wood snipe 
increased the gloomy thoughts which this sad spot 
occaaoned. Here, on a gay and smiling little plain, two :/ 
ministers have settled themselves, with their wives, who had 
consented to share their husbands' soi-disant apostolical 
labors'" During the four )'ear5 they have sjient here, they 

"* This raiulnn vu lorattd ai the mouth of dumokinc (Tik1m«kiin) Cfwk, 
on trbt-l i> ItDown ae Wklker'i Pnirifl ibout forty milca northwHt oF SpokAiH, 
hod *ht borders of ihc prtvai Spok&at rrteivalion. Ii vu & acaijaa of the AucrJ- 
c%n (TrimmlBsioTipn loundfd Mirch vo. 1^39, try two rnissoruhei vho tiid vUttnl 
the spot ihc preiHouB Aulumn ind ervcled log-huu act the silc. 

Rev, Elkjin^b Walker Vft3 Wrn in M^inc In iS^s- EducatT^ at Baiiffoi Tfacv 
logics Srmlti&ry he had ftnt inrmdrd iri go 115 ■ miuiljinirr lo Afnca; bur r«n]lt3 
being neeUed 'or the Ongan miihon, he va]uQLMH<i nod In 1B38 come aat irlth 
his wile, M&iy RiduudBon WuUicr- Thcv laboied nunua^ Lhe Spokdn wjlli 
OQiiderable lUirnH — in i&|t prinllng a primpr in thai lan^a^ — uDlil the 
Whitman maflaocrv <i^47)< Their Indian^ Rquesled them ta ftay aod pmniaed 
than proiectran; but the gatrermnent HDt a miUtArr e*coct li> take them (o the 
Kttiementi. There Walker baughi \mat\ ai Forest Grave, io the WlUainelle 
ViUe^f w h efe fac died in 1B77, 

Rev. Cuahing Eelbi waa bom in MuacbUKtts m tSlO- GrtdOAted ftt WU- 
lianu CoUege, he TTianied Myrn Falrbank In the spHng of 1^^. ind wiife bcT kfC 
immrdialcly loi ihc Oregon mlasion- Living U* old age, the pioDDcr nuOTionvY 
wu ktwwn thnntghwit the Weal, hii chancier rcrercd by aLl» Re javc over 


Earfy U^ ft tern Traveh 


''hav'e baptized several of their own chiklren. They culti- 
\'&t€ a small ^rm, brge enoufi^h, however, for their own 
maintenance and the support of their aniniaUand fowls. It 
appears they arc fearful that, should they cultivates more, 
they mif^t have loo frequent visits from the savages. They 
e^en try to prevent their encampment in their immediate 
neighborhood^ and therefore they sec and converse but 
seldom with th*: Ii«i1hens, whom they have come so far 
to seek. A band of Spokans received me with every 
dcmoEslmlion of friendship, and were enchanted to hear 
that the right kind of Black -gowns intended soon lo form 
an esUiblislmient in the vicinity. I baptized one of their 
little children who was dying. 

It was in these parts that in 1836 a modem Iconackst, 
named Parker^ broke down a cross erected over the gntve of 
a chiki by some Catholic Iroquciis, telling us emphatically, 
in the narrative of his journey, that he did not wish to lecve 
in that country an emblem of idolatry."' 

Poor man ! — not to know better in this enlightened age ! 
Were he to return to these mountains, he would hear the 
praiaesof the Holy Name of Jesus resounding among them; 

fifty y«ui of hU life It> Dit«AiDQfijy mtvIcc, la hi* Wia yean bcln^ kbovn lU Fillier 
&]l3. fit wnB insUumcntJti in {uuodiog bulb PluIjc tJiuvei^ily ■!■(] WhiUout 
CoUpge, and tTiiwllpd 'flFn»i**ly \n ihc wort of byilrjlnj rhorrhfi *!>() pfrtchln£. 
He fnqtWDtly RvkJlvd hJi Spoluu (ira^tg^ tbe lar^ partioa of whom ftre ooip 
■OBOibcia ol Ibc Pmbytenfta chufcb. — El>. 

'Tor Rev, Sunuel Ptikcr >ee Tt>wnwa4'> JVaiT«MHt U cvr volume nti« 
p. jjj. note III, Furkr' Ihgt dencribn this indJeitt In liU Jutwn^tl of an £sfX&>r- 
img TtKtr ttyand Ihf Hfitky Moaniaint (iThua, N Y., iR^H), pf , T75, v^fi: "One 
gmve in the s&mG vlllagt bod a crosa Btacding over it, whirh vu ihv only rcLic 
bftbe kliid t nw, logcihci wilh [lib jtul iiiUiicti) duiiitit fli/ Ut^bfn LhU couoUy. 
Bai w [ viewed Th« itqh of wDf»d mmle \ty men* h^aA\ ol no vttXi. Xb btncfit 
dibcr tbc dcfid or thv living, md for rtvyn likct^ to opcnia u ■ vivo to n ffUJlty 
conadcncep ot a itcpping-ucnc to Jdolutiy* (ban to be undentoal Id its fp[ritu«J 
■ecuc to nfer lo « cnidfiidDn td our tinft, I look thta, ttrlilch ihp Indians hid pre. 
puvdi and brok^ it to piece*. I thca told them wc pUce ft itooe a1 (he head tnd 
hxn of the grove only to ma\. Ibc place; and without a munnuE Ibcy cliecrfuUjr 
■i«|ult««pd. And adopted our cutinm/^— Ed. 


ta4i'T&4'] De Stiff's Letters and Sketches 


he would hrar the Catholics chaunting the love and mercws 
of God from the river^ lakes, mountains, prairies, foresu 
And coasts of the Columbia^ He would behold the Cross 
plaoted from shore to shore for the space of a thousand 
mites — on the loftiest hei^l of the Pointed Heart teiritory, 
[313] on the towering chain which separates the \^ters of 
the Missouri from the Columbia rivers; in the plains of the 
Wallamcttc, Cowlitz and Bitter Root — and, whilst 1 am 
writing (o you, the Rev. Mr Dcmers is occupied in planting 
this same sacred symbol amongst the diiTerent tribeii of New 
Caledonia.*" The words of Him who said that this holy 
sign would drGV^ <iU men to Uimset}y begin to be vcriiied with 
regard to the poor destitute sheep of Ihi^ vast continent- 
Were he who destroyed that solitary, humble Cross now to 
return, he would find the image of Jesus Christ crucified, 
borne on the breast of more than 4000 Indians; and the 
smallest child would say to him: "Mr. Parker, we do not 
adore the cross; do not break it, because it reminds us of 
Jesus Christ who died on the cross to save us — wc adore 
God alone." 

In the beginning of May I arrived at Fort ColviUe 00 
the Colville river; this year the snow melted away very 
coriy. The mountain torrents had overfiowed, and the 
amaJl rivers that usually moved quietly along in the month 
of April, had suddenly left their beds and assumed (he ap- 
pearance of large rivers and lakes, completely flooding al) 
the lowlands. This rendered my journey to Vancouver by 
land impossible, and induced me to wait, nolens votcns, at 

■** Modevta Dfmen W bom ndftr Quebec la i8oft; educAted ml Qvcbee Send' 
Duy ht vu ordaincii in 1836. *nd the mnic ytv •Urtcd for Red 1tiv«r Theme 
br wrnt vi^And »iih the Huiivfn'i Ray hrigkHp in ifi^K nniihng in VtnrfiDver 
Id th« AutuTTLn of thai ytfir wiib Fathi^r Bloncbet, In iS^g bo vuited Neiv Cak- 

dudui. uid ia 184T W41 ilpuilnl tu fuuuil miiak-ru uioAg the ihbcwiica, »ivl lo 
ixatmcl (he hutf-biwds st ihr fori* Br Ubfsrw! chi^dy In Stw fUlfttonf* until 
1^47, (hen bring conKcTated bihhop of Vncicouver, H* oooEiautd in thia fi«)d 
«f Ubor i.iaUl hii <icBLli mt Victnia Id iSji**- Ed- 


Eariy Wtilem Travth 


the Fort, for the construction of the barges which were not 
ready until the 30th of the same month, when I was again 
able to pursue my journey on the river. On Ihe same day 
that I arrived among the Shuj-elpi or Chaudiere tribe, who 
resided near the Fort, I undertook to translate our pTuyers 
into their language. This kept me only one day as their 
langxiage is nearly the same as that of the Flat Heads and 
Kalispcls, having the same origin. They were all very 
attentive in attending my instructions, and the old, as well 
as the young, tried assiduously lo Icam their pray-ers. I 
[214] baptised all the younger children who had nut received 
the sacrament before, for Mr. Demers hod already made 
two excursions amongst ihcm, with the most gratifying 
success. The great chief and his wife had long sighed for 
baptism, which holy sacrament I administered to them, 
naming them Martin and \tary. This chief U one of the 
most intelligent and pious I have become acquainted nith. 
The work of God does not, however, proceed without con- 
tradictions; it is necessary to prepare oneself for them before- 
hand when undertaking any enterprise amongst the tribes. 
I have had some hard trials in all my visit<L I expected 
them, when on the 13th of May, I started to see the Oki- 
nakare tribe, who were desirous to meet a priest/** The 
interpreter^ Charles, and the chief of the Shuyelpi, wished 
to accompany me. In crossing the Columbia river my nnule 
returned to the shore^ and ran at full speed into the forest; 

>** Tbe Okin^gAa Indiuu an of the SiUshui funUv^ althou^ somv BulhwitMV 
dui them witb Ihc Shiuhwapft t4 Bntiah CntumbU, Tbcy forni^d a woilderable 
<Anfpdi?m7 M altitd tzibut utmding alon^ ibe tIvet vollpy of thdi rum^ and 
faf^yHttg the biuida uf \ht SimilkamHEL River. A tratUag po«l wu *ta\y enctod 
UUQgihem, furwluth nrx FrBiicb^n'^^Dmilivt, incur volume ri, p, aAo, xK>to 7I' 
AlfXandpr Rnit< vbo (iiirn>d an Okinigan voman, and livv<] amonc thrm for 
rnaav Tcnrtn u the <liif! auLtwrity upon iheir manncn and coatorni, Se« Koas'a 
Oftgvfi StUivi, in our voLume vii. chaplei? cvjil m ui. Tbc OlLibafcm aj? ow 
tr^butarr 10 CofviUt? a^ncr. and aumtwi abavic five htindnd and flfiy, maai ot 
whom an Catholic*.— Cd- 

1841-1843) De Smet's LeUcrs and Sketches 371 

Charles pursued her, and two hours afterwards I vras told 
thai he had beim fouQd deiid in thepntim. I hascenixl im- 
mediately, and perceived from a distince a great gathering 
of people. 1 soon reached the spot where he ii'as lying, and, 
to my great Joy, perceived that hegiivesigni^of life. He was 
however, senseless, and in a most pitiful state. A copious 
bleeding and some days of rest restored him and we resumed 
our journey. This time the mule had a large rope tied 
around her neck, and wc crusscd the river without any 
accidents; we took a narrow path that led us by mountains, 
valleys, forests and prairies, following the course of the 
river Sharamcep."* Towards evening wc were on the bor- 
ders of a deep impetuous torrent, having no other bridge 
than a tree which was rather slight and in constant motion 
from the rushing of the waters. It reminded me of the 
bridge of souls spoken of in the Potowattamte legends. 
These savages believe that :^uls must traverse thb bridge 
[215] before they reach their etysium in the west. The good, 
they say, pass over it without danger; the bad, on the con- 
trary, are unable to hold on, but stumble, stagger and fall 
into the torrent below, which sweeps them off into a laby- 
rinth of kkcs and marshes; here they drag out their exist- 
ence; wretched, tormented by (amine and in great agony> 
the living prey of all sorts of venomous reptiles and fero- 
cious animab, wandering to and fro without <rvcr being able 
to escape. We were fortunate enough to cross the trembling 
bridge without accident. We soon pitched our camp on 
the other side, and in spite of the warring waves which 
fa) faDs and cascades thundered all night by our side, we 
enjoyed a refreshing sleep. The greater part of the next day 
the path, conducted us throu^ a thick and hilly forest of 

*" 'ITie country brtwi«n Kin CoTtiII* tD<1 OIUTugtn hu bwn but iinp«f*cily 
choftpcd- II b about suit/ mika ib « (iir«t lioc tbrougjl Um Co^iilte liuiiao rbo- 
imlkm. — 'Ed. 


Earfy Western Travels 

(Vol. a? 

fir tre«$; the country then bwame more unduLitmg and 
open. From lime lo time tvc perceived an Indian burki 
ground, remarkable only for the posts erected on the graves, 
and hung with kettles, wooden pktcs, guns, bows and ar- 
rows, left there by the nearest relatives of the deceased — 
humble tokens of their grief and friendship. 

We encamped on the shore of a small lake called Uie 
ShiiiTMmeeii,^"* where was a Shuydpi village; I gave these 
savages several inKtnictions and baptized their in^ts. AC 
my departure the whole village accompanied me. The 
country over which we travelled is open; the soil, sterile 
and sandy, and the tlifTrrcnt chains of mountain:^ that tra- 
verse it seem lo be nothing but sharp pointed rocks, thinly 
covered with cedars and pines- Towards evening we came 
up with the men of the first Okinakane encampment, who 
received us with the greatest cordiality and joy- The chief 
who came out to meet us was quite conspicjous, being ar- 
rayed in hia court dress— a ^irt made of a horse skin, the 
hair of which was outside, the nunc partly on his [zi6] chest 
and back, giving him a truly fantastic and savage appearance. 
The camp also joined ue, and the fact of my arrival having 
been soon noised abroad in every directbn, we saw, issuing 
from the defiles and narrow passes of the mountains, bands 
of Indians who had gone forth to gather their harvest of roots. 
Many sick were presented to me for baptism, of which rite 
they already knew the importance. Before reaching the ren- 
dezvous assigned us, en the borders of the Okinakane lake, 
I wa8 surrounded by more than aoo horsemen, and more than 
200 others were already in waiting."" We recited together 

** A tm\l\ lake rjillrtf Kanmlp fs Tound on modEm mips nrar lh« bfwl of 
SiDpoil River— Ed, 

^" Ldu Oluru^a in Britiih CoJumbi* i* «boiit iltty dhUm In letigih 4fir1 
the »aurcc td the river <tt that nfttoe* ^X voijld be * loog uid diftcutt lo^itwy tft 
rciutn Cbi-iKC to Foit C(^«]llr in Itim diiy»; » that Dc Sfaci'» rroJnvou* «ilb 

)S4:-ifi42] D^ Smefs LetUn and S/utchts 


tiighe prayersr and all lUlened \^ith edifying attention to the 
instniction I gave them. The ijiterprclcr and Martin con- 
tinued the religious conversation untU the night nras Ear ad- 
vanced; they manifested the same anxiety to hear the word 
ol God that the Stiel Shoi had shown.'" Ml the next day 
was spent in pniyer, instructtun^ and hymns — I baptized 
106 chDdren and some old people* and in condusion named 
the plain where these consoling scenes occurred, the *^pluin 
of prayei/* It would be impossible for me to give you an 
idea of the piety, the happiness of these men, who are thirst- 
ing for the life-giving waters of the Divine word. How 
much good a missionary could do, who would reside in the 
midstof a people who are so desirous of receiving instruction, 
and correspond so faithfully with the grace of God. After 
some rcj^ulations and advice, I left this interesting people, 
and pursuing my journey for three days over mountains 
and through dense forests, arrivt-d safely at Fort Colville. 

Amongst the innumerable rivers that traverse the Ameri- 
can continent, and afford means of communication between 
its most dii^nt portions, the Columbia river 13 one of the 
most remarkable, not only on account of its great impor- 
tance, [^17] ^'^^^ of the mountains, but also from the 
dangers that atteiKJ its navigation. At some distance from 
the Pacific ocean, crossing a territory which exhibits, in 
several localities, evident marks of former volcanic erup- 
tions, its course is frequently impeded by rapids, by chains 
of volcanic rocks, and immense detached masses of the 
same substance which, in many places, obstruct the bed of 
the river,'* 

1h« ladiana wu ponibljr ti MTa« inulJtf mtvtiar lake, cotiUnl kjj hUn LaIu 
OkaiugUi bec*iu» b« met ilut tribe upon iu «bom. — El>. 

■" St* TTiamju W- S^mou, *' RefArt of *n KxjimiruUfnn of tht Upprr Colum- 
bia Riw," SnHto Em. D«i., 47 Con|t« 1 mm., Ko. 1S6.— Eo. 

1641-1843] /> Smut's Letterj and Skftchfs 


to Btay lis progress^ then leaps forward with re^fltlesa im- 
petuosity, and then rebounds against the rock-girt tstands 
of which I have already spoken, but which present only 
vain obstructions to its headlong course. If arrested for a 
momeol, its accumulated waters proudly swcU and mount 
as though instinct with life, and the next moment dash iri* 
umphandy on, enveloping the half sznotherod waves thai 
preceded them as if impatient of their sluggish course, and 
wild to speed them on their way- Along the shore, on every 
projecting point, the Indian fisherman take-s his^Und, 
spreading in the eddies his ingeniously worked net, and in 
a short time procures for himself an abundant supply of &i>e 
fieh^ Attracted by the sho-jh of fish that come up the river, 
the seals gambol amid the eddying waves — now floating 
with their heads above the river's breast, and anon darting 
in the twinkling of an eye from side to side, in sportive joy 
or in swift pursuit of their scaly prey. But this noble river 
has far other recollections associated with it- Never shall 
1 forget the sad and fatal accident which occurred on the 
second day of our voyage, at a spot called the *' little dalles*" 
I had gone adiore and was walking along the bank, scarcely 
thinking what might happen ; for ray breviary, papers, bed, in 
a word, my little all, had been left in the bargc^'" I had pit>- 
ceedcd about a quarter of a mile, when seeing the batgcnicn 
push off from the bank and glide down the stream with an 
easy, careless air, I began to repent having preferred a path 
along the river's side, so strewn with fragments of rocks that 
I was compelled at every instant to turn aside or clamber 
over them. I still hek) on my course, when all at once, the 
barge [3J9I is so abruptly stopped that the rowers can hardly 

^*' What »ic l«bai<:Ali> known u tbe Litllf DkUrB of thr CdurnHn lir. ihht^ve 
Fnrf ralvllle. TV ElufTt[>[k>Ti naul<l kppui lo Apply to thf ;>fT3rnt Wtlrlpuul 
RapiilB, juti briow KjJicheo Ftlli, tbuui Ewonu imlr* ^bMC Ok&Tugin Klvrr, 
Tbe ondrr ilincb fmn tiw SrvpclJn Hivrr vxil, is « lone vcnc* of liifficuk npjdi 
todriOWL Sf« "Rqufi" dw^ o«lf, p. 373, octt 195. — Zs>. 


Early Watfrn Trawtr 

[Vol. B7 

keep their scati. Regaining, hovrcver, iheir equilibrium, 
ihi^ |i1y llic t^rs willi mliHihlml vigour, Imt uithout any 
eHect upon the barge. They are already within the power 
of the angry vortex : the waters are crested with foam ; a deep 
sound id heard which I distinguish as the voice of the pilt^t 
encouniging his men to hoJd to their oars — to row bravely. 
The danger increases every minute, and in a moment more 
all hope of safety has vanishedn The barge — the sport of , 
the vortex, spins like a top upon the whirling waters — the ' 
oars are useless — the bow rises — the stem descends, and 
the next instant all have disappeared. A deathlike chUI 
shot through my frame ^a dimness came o\'er my sights 
as the cry "we are lost!" rung in my cars, and lold but too 
plainly that my companions were buried beneatli the waves- 
Overwhelmed with grief and utterly unable to afford them 
the slightest assistance, I stood a motionless spectator of 
this tragic scene. All were gone, and yet upon the rivcr*s \ 
breast there was not the faintest trace of their melancholy 
fate. Soon after the whirlpool threw up, in various diroc- 
tiona, the oars, poles, the barge capsized, and every lighter 
article it had contained. Here and there I beheld the un- 
happy bargemen vainly struggling in the midst of the vortex. 
Five of them sunk never to rise again. My interpreter had 
twice touched bottom and after a short prayer was thrown 
upon the bank. An Irocjuois saved himself by means of my 
bed; and a third was so fortunate as to seize the handle of 
an cmply trunk, which helped him to sustain himself above 
water until he reached land. The rest of our journey was 
more fortunate. We stopped at Forts Okinakane and 
Wallawalla/" where I bfiptized several children. 

The savages who principally frequent the borders of the 
Columbia river are from the lakes; the chief of whom, with 

^■* For Fnrt Walla Wa1U, a Hud«on'« Bajr poet, MC TowiiWDd't NoTOriMb., 
in our Tolunw ai, p. 178, Aotv 7J.— Kp. 

i84i-i84>] IV Smeft Let/fTj and Skftches 


(210] several of the nation, have been baptized; also the 
Shuyclpi or Chaudicrcs, the Okinakanrs, Cingpoils, Walla- 
wallas, Pierced Noses, Kayuscii, Attayes, Spokane^ the 
Indians from the falls and cascades, and the Schinouks and 

Wtr airivrd at Fort Vancouver on ihe momtngof thf^ Jtth 
June. I enjoyed the happiness and f^reat consolation of 
meeting in these distant parts, two respectable Canadian 
priests — the Rev. Mr Blanche!, grand vicar of all the coun- 
tries west of the mounLH]n.s cUimed by the BrilitJi crown, 
and the Rev, Mr. Demers. They are bboring in these re- 
gions for the same object that wc are trying to accomplish 
in the Rocky Mountains, The kindness and benevolence 
with which these Reverend gentlemen received ine are proofs 
of the pure zeal which actuates them for the salvation of 
these savages. They assured me that immense good might 
be done in the extensive regions that border on the Pacific, 
if a greater number of Missionaries, with means at their 
command, ^ere stationed in these regions; and they urged, 
me very stnjngly to obtain from my Superiors some of our 
Fathers. I will try to give you in my next some extracts 
from the letters of these Missionaries, which will make the 
country known to you, its extent, and the progress of their 
mission, 'I'hc Governor of the Honorable Company of 
Hudson Bay, Dr McLaughlin, who resides at Fort Van- 
couver^ after having given me every possible proof of interest, 
as a good Catholic, advised me to do every thing in my povirer 

*** ni ihesc Indian (ribn the Cbiurlitrv. Okltugui* SAopuQ <Clt^3anii1. haw 
bpen dcBcribcd iitU. in no(e« \ta. 1^, j6i; for th« WiU* W&Lb &nd CAyust 
>ec our tolumv vii, p, 1^7, nolt %}, for tbr Nu Perc^ f^encd No««). rolumc 
vf, p. J40. nott «*>; (or the Indimuof ihc Dalle* volume tU, p^ 1*9, note 5i;ihr 
Chtfiook <SchUu»kA). volafflc v\, p ^40. ooiv 40; fi>r Cbtiop ^CUMOf>i), i-olutoa 
■^1 P' ^3?i ^vy^^ J9' Th<; AttAyu were prohablj th< Vjikun«. la imporlant 
Shahftptian Dibr la thr TAU17 of ibai rivet, one bnncb of \S\t oibe vu cillcd 
AUatun, wk] %. Caltiolic aUfldon by (lul oajiw «u id laMT y^iktt HbbUibed 


Earfy tFtsiem Travels 


to gntify tbe wiAes of the r* «*/<«» IfiwoMrks- His 
principal reajDO b, thu if Catholidty wu r&fMtUjr plftnled id 
ikcK tiBCtt where cmUzBtioii bcgios lo dawn, it wooid be 
more quickly introdiiced thence into the in t e rior . Abewly 
a host of mi&isteTS have overrun a pait of the country, and 
bife aettled w h er ev er they may derive [m] some advan- 
tages for the pri^-atioos their phOatithiopy iiB{>oaa da dian. 
Such is the state of these legioitt of the new world, as yet so 
Etiieknowii: you pcrcctve that our prospects arc by do means 
dbcooragiiif;- Pmnil me therefore to repeal the great 
prindpk you have so often recommended lo me, and whkh 
I have not forgotten: "Coorage and confidence in God!" 
With the mercy of God, the church of Jesus Chrttt may soon 
have the consolation of seeing her standard [Wanted in these 
distant lands on the niins of idolatry and of the darkest super- 
stition. Fray then that the Lord of such a rich harvest may 
■md us numerous fellow laboms^ for in so extensive a 
I field we are but five, and beset with so many danfrers, that at 
the dawn of day we have often reason to doubt whether we 
will live to see the sun go down. It is not that we have any 
thing to fear from ihediniate; far from it — for, if hfrre death 
came only by sickness, we might indeed count upon many 
years, but water, fire, and the bow, often hurry their victims 
o? when lca»t expected. Of a hundred men who inhabit this 
country^ there arc not ten who do not die hy some or other 
&tal aocJdeiit The afternoon of the 30th June I resumed 
my |;^acc in one of the barges of the English Company, 
and took my leave of the worthy and respectable Govcmor- 
*— To my great joy I found tlul the Rtrv. Mr. Dcmers was 
one of the passengers, being about to undertake an apostolic 
excursion among the different tribes of New Caledonia, 
who, according 10 (he iiccounU of sc\'cral Canadian tmvel- 
Icrs, were most anxious to see a Blackgown, and hear the 
word of Cod- The wind being favorable, the saib of the 


i84i-i&4>] Df Sm^i'^ Letters and Sketches 


barge were unfurled and the sailors plying their o&rs at the 
same time, the nth of July saw us landed safdy at Fort 
Wallawalla, The next day I parted, vriih many rcRrets* 
horn my esteemed friends. Rev. Mr. Demers. and Mr. (22»] 
Ogden- Accompanied only by my mtcrpreter^ yet continued 
our land route to the 19th, through woods and immense 
plains. The high plains which separate the waters of the 
Snake river from those of the Spokan. ofier some natural 
curiosities. I fancied myself in the vicinity of several forti- 
fied cities, surrounded by walls and small forts, scattered In 
different directions. The pillars are regular pentagons* 
from two to four feet in diameter, erect, joined together, 
fonning a wall from forty to eighty feet high, and extending 
Severn! miles in the form of squares and triangles, detached 
from one another, and in different directions."' On our 
road we met some Pierced Noses^ and a small band of Spo- 
kaneSf who accosted us with many demonstrations of friend- 
ship, and although very poor* offered us more salmon than 
we could carr>'. The Pointed Hearts (a tribe which shall 
ever be dear to me) came to meet us, and great was the joy 
on both sides, on beholding one another again. They had 
strictly observed all the rules I had laid down for them at my 
first visit. They accompanied me for three days, to the 
very limits of iheir territory. We then planted a cross on the 
summit of a high mountain, covered with snow, and after the 
example of the Flat Heads, all the people consecrated them- 
selves inviolably to the service of God. We remained there 
that night. The next morning, after reciting our prayers in 

** P«rt «f lh« Grcai rimn al the CclauiUji^ brcdun by mviy foaiuilc *tupr« 
nl the Yolrtnir uitderlyiftg mrk Moai noTAfal^ of thei* Ei (h* (itand Coul**, 
whlchr tidrTvcTr D? Strict did not ckbs, for it lies oonh of SpokADv JlifW, He 
pmbably look ihe tnil Uuivuda d^rrlopcd into ■ pan o( the MuUu rond. trotu 
Crui Fdlfl of MiuMiii 1o WiUa WbIU. Fimn the land ot the Conir d'AKfiC h« 
tclumcd fclong <b? router ^ which he hfkd fomc out — the Sl IU|[ia Put &ad 
livd St' RcijLa Bur^.^ Ed. 


Barfy iFesUm Traveis 


common, and giving Uiem a long exhortation, H'c bade them 
farcweD. The 2olh I conttnuecl my Journey over terrific 
mountains, sti?ep roclui, and ihrough appan^ntly irapcne* 
trable foretts. I could scarcely believe that any human 
being had ever preceded us over such a road- At the end 
of four days' journey, rtplcle with fatigue and difficulties, 
we reached the borders of ihe Bitter Root river, and on the 
ev^ening of the 37th I had the happiness of arriving safely at 
St [123] Mary's, and of finding my dear brethren in good 
hftilth. — The Flat Heads, accompanieil by Father PftinI, 
had left the village ten days before, to procure provisions, 
A few had remained to guard the camp, and their families 
awaited my return. The 39th, I started to rejoin the Flat 
Heads on the \fis:iouri river. We ^arended the Bitter Root 
to itfi fiourte, and the ist of August, liaving clambered up a 
high mountain, we planted a cross on its ver>' summit, near a 
beautiful spring, one of the sources of llie Missouri.'" TIil- 
next day, after a forced march, we joined the camp n-here 
we had such a budget of news to open, so many interesting 
facts to communicate to each other, that we sat up a greater 
pari of the night. The Rev. Father Point and myself, ac 
companied our dear neophytes, who to obtain their daily 
bread, are obliged to hunt the buSalo, even over the lands 
of their most inveterate enemies, the Black Feet. On the 
15th of August, the feast of the Assumption, (the same on 
which this letter is dated) I offered up the sacrifice of the 
Mass, in a noble plain, vvntered by one of the three streams 
that form the head waters of the Missouri, to thank God for 
all the blessings He li^id bestowed on us during this la^tt year. 
I had the consolation of seeing fifty Flat Heads approach 
the holy table in so humble, modest and devout a manner. 

>*Thii ■«« Cht TTiutiF ffdbv«d bv Clwk on H% tvtun> jounMjr In iSa6^ 
thiovi^ Gibbon** P&u, hArl dawn the upprr ir^lDn of Di^ Hole {*>* Wbdon) 
ftlver, Bit ftOlucikL uT tlic Jctfeiauu, -- Ed- 

t84i-i$4«I De Smet'r Letters and Sketches 


that to my, perhaps partial eye, they resembled angeb more 
than men. On the same day I determmed, for the interest 
of this mission, which seems so absolutely tu rwiuirf il, lo 
traverse for the fourth time the dangerous American desert- 
If heaven preserves mc, (for 1 have to inivel through u region 
infested by thousands uf hostile savages) I will send you the 
account of this last journey, — Y-ou see then, Rev. Father^ 
that in these deserts we must more than ever keep our souls 
prepared to render the fearful account, in consequence of 
the perils that surround us; and [224] as it "would be desirable 
that we could be replaced immediately, in case of any acci- 
dent occtirring — again I say to you^ pmy thai the Lord 
may send us fellow laborers. '^Rogatc ergo Dominum 
messis ut miltat cpcrHrios in messem suam," And thou- 
sands of souU, who would otherwise be lost, will bless j'ou 
one day in eternity. Rev. Father Point has expressed a 
desire to be sent amongst the Blackfeet. Until they are 
willing to lister to the wojtl of God, which 1 think will be 
before long, he intends to preach the gospel to the Pointed 
Hearts and the neighboring tribes. I trust we shall be able 
to make as cheering a report of these as we have already 
done of our 6r5t neophytes. I have found them aU in the 
best dispositions. The Rev, Father Mengarini remains with 
the Flalhcads and Pends d^orciUcs. On my first joumc>% 
in the autunui of 1841, which cnried at Fort Colville, I 
baptized 190 persons of the Kalispel tribe, On my visit, last 
springs to the various distant tribes, (of which I have just 
finished giving you the account) I had the consolation of bap- 
tizing 418 persons, 60 of whom were of the Peoda d'oreiUe 
tribe of the great lake; 83 of the Koetnays or Skalzi; 100 of 
the Pointed Hearts; 56 of the Shuyclpi; 106 of the Okcna- 
kanes, and 14 in the Okenakanes and Wallawalla Forts.— 
These, with 500 baptized kisl year, in different parts of the 
country, mostly amongst the Flat Heads and Kiilispels, and 

iS4i-i^4>l -Of Smft'j Letters and Sketches 


but a retreat of three days, which ser\cd as a more immediate 
preparation* contributed still more to convince us of their 
sincerity- From an early hour in the morning repeated dis- 
charges of musketry announced afar the arrival of the great, 
(he f^torious day. At the first sound of the bell a crowd of 
savages hurried towards our church. One of our Fathers, 
in a surplice and stole, preceded by three choristers, one of 
whom bore aloft the banner of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 
went out to receive them, and conduct them in ppocestsion, 
and to the sound of joyous canticles, into the Temple of the 
Loid. What piety — what religious recollection, amidst 
that throng I They observed a strict silence, but at the 
same time the joy and gladness that filled their hearts, shone 
on their happy countenances. The ardent love which already 
animated [^37] these innocent hearts, was inflamed afresh 
by the fervent aspirations to the adorable Sacrament, 
which were recited aloud by one of our Fathers, who also 
intermingled occasionally some stanzas of canticles- The 
tender devotion^ and the profound faith with which these 
Indians received their God, really edified and affected us. 
That morning at 11 o'clock they renewed their baptismal 
vows, and in the afternoon they made the solemn consecra- 
tion of their hearts lo the Blessed Virgin, the tutelar patron- 
ess of this place.^ May these pious sentiments which the 
true religion abnc could inspire, be preserved amongst our 
dear children. We hope for their continuance, and what 
increases our hope is, that at the time of this solemnity, 
about one hundred and twenty persons approached the 
tribunal of penance, and since that truly memorable occa- 
sion, we have from thirty lo forty communions, and from 
fifty lo sixty confessions every Sunday. 

The feast of Corpus Christi was solemnized by another 
ceremony not iess touching, and calculated to perpetuate 
the gratitude and devotion of our pious Indians towards our 

1841-IS49] Dt Smtt's Letttrj and Skftchfs 

rince ihen each Sunday after Vesper*, the faithful enjo>' the 
happiness of receiving the Hciicdiction> 

M^y the blessing of God really descend upon us and our 
colony. We hope for it through the assistance of your 
prayers and those of all our friends.. 
I remain, Rev. Father, 

Your very humble friend and servant, 



Fort Vancouver, 38th Scptcm}ier, 1841. 
Reverend Father: 

Blessed be the Divine Providence of the all-powerful 
God who has protected, preserved and restored you safely 
to your dear neophytes. 

I congratulate the country upon the inestiniablc treasure 
it possesses by the arrival and establishment therein of the 
members of the Society of Jesus, Be so kind as to express 
to the Reverend Fathers and Brothers my profound ven- 
eradon and respect for them, I beg of God to bless your 
labours and to continue your successful efforts. In a few 
years you will enjoy the glory and consolation of beholding 
through your means all the savages residing on the head 
Waters of theColumbiaT ranging themselves under the stand- 
ard of the Cross. I do not doubi but that our excellent 
governor, Dr. McLaughlin, will give you all the assistance 
in his power. It is very fortunate for our holy religion,*' 
that this noble-hearted man should be at the head of ihe 
affairs of the honorable Hudson Bay Company, west of the 
Rocky Mountains. He protected it before our arrival in 
these regions. lie still gives it his support by word and 
example, and many favors. As we are in the same coun- 


Early WiiUrn TraviU 


try, aiming at the aame end, namely, the triumph of the 
"^boly Catholic faith tfarou^iout this vast territory, the 
Rev. Mr. Demcrs and myself wtH ;itwMr% tjike the ninm 
lively tnteresl in )"Our welfare and progress, and we are [a 30] 
connoced that, whatever coocgths us will equally inierest 
you. The following i£ an account of our present situation: 
Tile Catholic estaUishmml of Wallamette consists of 
nearly 80 families. The one at Cowliu of only five, — 
twentytwo at Ncz-<iualc on P^ct sound* which is from 35 
to 30 leagues above CowliU-"" Besides these stations we 
liilt from time to time, the nearest Fon$ where the Catholics 
fal the service of the Hudson Bay Company reside. This 
is what takes up almost all our time. We are much in want 
of by brothers and nuns, of school masters and mbtrcsses. 
We have to atteixi to every spiritual as well as temporal 
a&tr, which is a great bunjen to us. The wises of the 
Canadians, taken from every quarter of the country, cause 
throu^iout the famili(!s a diversity of languages. Tliey 
Speak almost generally a rude jargon of which we can 
scarcely make any use in our public instructions — hence 
proceed the obstacles to our progress, — we go along slowly. 
We are obliged to teach them French and their catechism 

^ It wa4 not the policy of the Riidjoa's Day CoiDp^nr to trocjuiagv Kttl^ 
Dffqn^ Dt- McLmighLn, howtver. pefintaFvl smc cf ihp mlTrd vrvuia of Ihe 
CDinp&nr lo avCtla at Frtnch Prairtc (or CheBUk)nnK> in ti)« Vi^U*9i«Re Vallcf. 
Tbon, br 1S30. a (fO^denblo Kfuup of fanucit wen fauiuL iaa*t!jr of Fnncb- 
CanadliD oHgln Atnongth^^rHiHl ■eHJm w^re Lnuislibonte, Eiwoop Luci«< 
aitd Jotcph C<rvalfr 

Fun Nlf^utlly. <jt\ Pugct Sumitl. fi/ar mils ttwthcasi of Ihe mouth of Hbquatlj 
lUnv, vK« fnund^'ii in tAjj %% > rur-Trti!ing post. In tA^A Iht Pu^e ^Lmnd 
Aptculhiral Company waa forroMt ti London, mgtt of it» menibtfn bving Kvd- 
iCFTtU Bay Ccimpirtr idcUp in grdu Us uploiE liw rpgiou of the aouiul; cn^rnKqumtly 
a (Yjniiiri*T»b!f »rtilrnspflf gww up ntar the lort. 

Id 1^37 Simon PJomor^irau «iaa lutvLncd by Dr, McLoug^tifl to Klt!c on Cow- 
Bu Tniilei in the ralLey of Lbc tivrr vf thai n^mu, 5»an uoc Faincaul >c1tk>d 
ntar hira. In 1^59 a Uiige tam vti turrpycd by ChariM Knn. John Worfc. aod 
Jamn Douglu at a company idllcmtM. It gr«v bui little untU ihe ad*tat of 
Aaarfcftiia \a i3«5-;4'— Ei>. 

ta4i-i84>] De Smifs Letters and Sketches 


together, which ocoisions much delay. We are really orer- 
vhetmcd with business. The savages apply to us from all 
sides. Some of them arc indiflertnt, &nd we have not time 
to instruct them , We make them, occai^icinaUy, hasty visits, 
and baptize the children and the adults who happen to be 
in danger ol death, Bui wc have no time to learn their 
languages, and until now have been without an interpreter 
to translate the praytr?^ we wish then to Icam. It is only 
lately thai I have succeeded in tmnsbting ihem into the 
Tchinoux language. Our diRicultics arc grtatly increased 
by this variety of languages; each of ihe following tribes has 
a different dialect: The Kalapouyas, towanjs the head 
waters of the WaHamette,*" the Tchinoux of the Columbia 
river; the Kaijous from Walla -walla; the Pierced Noses, 
Okanakancs, Flat Ileads, Snakes, Cowlitz, the [231] 
Klickatates from the interior, north of Vancouver; *•• the 
Tcheheles, to the north of the mouth of the Columbia river; 
the Nczqualcs."*' and those from the interior or of the Pu* 
get sound Bay, thoK of the Travcr* river, the Kh^lams *•' 
of the above mentioned bay, ihoseof Vancouver Island, and 
those from the northern posts on the sea shore, and from 

•■"Far tbe Kalapuya aw our nlumf tU. p. jjo, no« Mo-— F-d. 

**Thi; OjwUu tte(c a auuiciuus ■[ul powciful iHbc of Sulbbiin sL«k, in 
thf Tsllfj of tht river of thK lUtrnK. Thry havr nnw ln« Iheir tnbul MpdIjI/, 
ihe rviTiEunl (ihcre wvro about ft hundrri! and twvntf l;v« \a i8Sj> haTinfi taCMU 
•IkiTttd in KT«nh7' 

For tbr KlikAtat Me Tmnumd't JVnmiMiv, In oui valume ni. p. 3«, note SA. 
On their tLter liiiicry li euy be noted thai they portkipftlcid in tlu: y«kiiiu Iruty 
of j£s5.'»ikd uc now one of the uoiwi>lMl«kiJ txitMB on Yakiou nscr^atiuii; * £t«, 
bowerrr^ nuinttining ih^nsvlvM on White SbIidoq RiiivT.-^ £ik 

'" For the Chcb&Iij comull our rolumt vip p^ 's^i DOlc 6^. 
'Iliv NiAqiulU ue m, Sallfthia litbc on uvl <n fhe vtdnlif of NuquAlly REnr 
There irc oow but ^tt^tX » huodrrfl aad fifty of thU tribe iMirvivinj^ on tbe Puyallup 

mrmrtiui), WMliinBlorj- — Eo 

^Thr Sk&lUm (CUlUm). » trib« of SaUihtn orjpa, wtrc fifst met by vbite» 
kIodk AdminhT lakL There kit nnr abcnit imQ hundred and fiftr <ff ihev 
lodimu «TUa1, tuving ■Iloieaem* in verenltf' both ■! Junefiown uud Fori 

Otmble,— £d. 

1841-1^47] -Oc Smft's Letters and Skrtches 


The Presbyterian MjssioDS are al Wallawalla^ as you 
approach Col/ille.*" In the midst of so many adversaries 
we try to keep our ground &rmly; to increase our numbers, 
[23:2] and to visit various parts, particularly vrliere the ^ 
danger is most pressing. We also endeavor to anticipate 
the others, and to inculcate the Catholic principles in those 
pbces vrhere error has not as yet found a footing, or even to ' 
arrest the progress of evil, to dry it up at iu source. The 
confiict has been violent, but the savaf^s now begin to open 
their eyes as to who are the real ministers of Jesus Christ. 
Heaven declares itself in our favor. If wc had a priest to 
hold a permanent station amongst the savages, the country 
would be ours in two years. The Methodist Missions are 
failing rapidly: they are losing their credit and the tittle 
influence they possessed. By the grace of God^ our cause 
has prevailed at Walkmette. This spring, Mr Dcmers 
withdrew from the Methodists a whole village of savages, 
situate at the foot of the Wallamcttc Falls. Mr. Dcmers 
also visited the Schinouks IChinook], below the Columbia 
river They are well disi>osed towards Catholicity. I have 
just arrived from Cascades, which is eighteen leagues from 
Vancouver. The sa^'ages at this place had resisted all the 
insinuations of a pretended Minister"* It was my first 
mission, and only lasted ten days. They learned in that 

Im 7«n, vbcnupon Ihr KiaqualJy nuHKin ^r^^ «b«ndoned The Indlwi 
raJvkm ■! the D«ltai«u br^n ia Mudi, iSja, by D&aiel U« wut H. IL W. Ttt- 
kint It wu < WP dDftf d Kith vuying lucrni iinhl i^tf, whm the propcrlr 
wu dltpAnBd ol to the Prvtbylerlaoi, TKe ■eEUctTurnt lU WlLlunplU FjlUb. ouuki 
in 164Q hf A. F. W^jtllcr. mm cbteSy » colookiajt oiit'cdiDCDt. In 1844 tbcn wtoc 
fony htohodbu at ihb pLue. — Bik 

*"* FailKiT Bloactirt hnt nfen (0 the mittlou of Dr. Whitman U WftaUtpu 
lor the C«fiiK. And UiBl of IJ_ U SpAuldIng it L&pni lor thr Net Pcrri*- Siv 
TowniMUvl** Sarr^iv^, ie dut volume nn, p. j^j, oote 115- En, 

^* Fcrkiiu %l the DjiUu mikiion {mc ^mk, twl* aoS> hi.d «lt<inpt«cl 10 rcftch 
thr In^inDB Knt]itrc<3 a.\ th<- Cucvir*^ But Bluncbct ^nrd. moft Cafluruict; 
ovrr thnr tiaiiou ihan iht! ^mtPilBUl mfsloiurj, foc the ludvia were betlcr 
p]«u«d vitli the Cntholif cvnmonUti, — Ed. 

Earfy Wtstrm Traveh 


time ihe sign of ihc cross, the offering of ihdr hearts 
God, the Lord's PT^yer, the AngcUcA] Salutation, 
Apostles' Creed, the ten Commandmcnti, and those of 
Church. I intend to revudt them soon, near Vancouv 
and to baptisse a considciablc number. Rev. Mr, Detn 
has been absent these two months, on a visit to the i 
at the Bay of Fugct-sound, who have long since besou 
him to come amongi<l thrm. I have not fie^n ahle to visil 
since the month of May, my catechumens at Ftackimax, 
village whose people were converted lost spring, and w! 
had tuincd a deaf car to a Mr> Waller,'" who is establish 
at WalUmette Jn<]g«^ thm, sir, hoiji' great are our la 
and how much it would advance our [333] mutual inte 
were you to send hither one of your Re\'. Fathers, with o 
of the three lay brother?. In my opinion, it is on this 
that we must seek to establish our holy religion. It is h 
that we should have a college, convent, and scbooU. It 
here that one day a successor of the Apostles will come f 
some part of the worid to settle, and provide for the spiritui 
ncce»iitie-H of ihis vast rrgJon, which, moreover, promise 
Mich an abundant harvest, — Here is the field of battU 
where we must in the first place gain the victory. It is hei 
that we must establish a b*iutiful mission. From the lowei 
stations the Missionaries and Rev. Fathers could go fortk 
in all directions to supply the di&tani stations, and announdj 
the word of God to the infidels still plunged in darkness and 
the shadows of death. If your plans ^ould not pcrmii 
you to change the place of your establishment, at least taku 
into consideration the need in which we stand of a R 

"^ PrijWbly fateivlrij for CkckxniM, the uunc of « iribc upon tbe tlTFt of 

A Y . WtllfT rarnr la reinfiv» the M«thiiditl tniHioB in (R4A1 Bftd * 
10 WilUnctle KaLIa. He H^d a ki^ftl coitlrE>nn7 with Di. McLaughlin la fdl 
tiuci ^^J Uie title ^ Iiuk] »t ttkit |iWc- Willri brinine % dtlm <A Of^gon. sou 
OftiuEclmble pnipen^. uwl died la W1Uftm#n# Valley in 187*.^ Eo. 

1841-184^] Df Smet's Letters anJ Siefches 

39 > 

Father, and of a lay brother, to succor us in our necessities. 
By the latest dates from the Sandwich Islands, lam informed 
that Ibe Rev. Mr. Chochure had arrived there, accompanied 
by three pnests, the Rev, Mr. Walsh making (he fourth."* 
A large Catholic Church it was hoped would have be«D 
ready last autumn for the celebration of the Holy Mysteries- 
The natives were embracing our everlasting faith in great 
numbers, and the meeting houaes were almost abandonal. 
The Bishop of Juliopolis, stationed at Red River, '" 
writes to me that the savages dwelling near the base of the 
eastern part of the Rocky Mountains have deputed to him a 
half blood who resides amongst them^ to obtain from his 
Grace a priest to instruct them. Rev. Mr. Thibault ts 
destined (or this misEJonn 

1 remain, Kev. Father, youn, 

F. N. Blanchet. 


Uoiversi^ of St. Louis^ ist Nov, 1842. 
Very Rev- Father: 

Ik my last letter of August, I promised to write to you 
fiom St Louis, should I arrive safHy in that city- Heaven 

^' A long atmgiclr WJ occtuTc<I In Kf urt ihc eulruu af CAthulit miaionArm 
lo Uv Hawmilan 1aLuu19. The finl |)iicai&i aho csmr out \n lAs?, nmr lOon 
cipvURjn Rptumin^ in '^36. ^Htr a k>ng (tnLpnl^ x\\ vrrv obli^rd to dcp«fi 
»ftve Robert Wftlib) ui Iriah piitMi vbo vras pormiifd (o rafl^D^ (irovidcd he 
would A^irc DVt U> icftdi the nuim*. la lAjg a Frrocb nun'<ir-«Hr ihTTAimnl 
the ^vcrmneal witli ft bomb<irfm*fil vid tu««cdnl in wrvfting flrora tb«n tli« 
pronibc of tDWi«tion for Cuholici; thcnupoa Eijfiinp Roucbouw (Cbodiiii«), 
blfthop of Nllopolk. utivoi Id May. ifijB, Bfomipaaipd \ry tm F(Ela& Hie 
Ewn ytmr the buhop retunwd lo trwe Lu ttlntopcffntnu; when «il llir 
outmtrd voj'Agt Ihe vchcI foundcnd t^ Cupc Horn, aIL □□ biTucl pc ritttJnjL' — Kl>- 

*" In iBt K J . N , Proveachrr wu dupclchsd Iron Quch*c to nuEiiit^r to tJi« 
Rid River Kt(lcn» ud nUbUoh^ ■ lUtwa al St. Booifuc^ In i4jv> he wa* 

i84i->^4^) ^ Smets Lerurs and Sketchts 393 

a robust savage of gigantic stature, swmed resolved lo carry 
me off by main force. All spoke al ihe ame lime, and ap- 
peared to be quarrelling, whilst I, the sole object of all thU 
contention, could not conceive what ihey were about- I re* 
mained pas^ve. not knowing whether I should laugh or be 
serious. The interpreter aoon came to my relief, and said 
that ull thisuproar was but an cxass of poiitcncssand kind- 
ness towards me, as evc-ry one wifihcd to have the honor of 
lodging and entertaining the Blaclcgown. With his advice 
I selected my host, upon which the others iramctliately loosed 
their hold, and I followed the chief to his lodge, which was 
the largest and best in the camp. The Crows dkl not tarr>' 
long before they aU gathered around me, and loaded me 
with marks of kindness. The social c&Iumet, emblem of 
savage brotherhood and union, went round that evening so 
frequently, that it was scarcely ever evtingu!»hed. It was 
accompanied with all the antics for which the Crows arc 50 
famous, when they offer the calumet to the Great Spirit, to 
the four winds, to the sun, fire, earth and water. These 
Indians are un(]uestionably the most anxious to learn; the 
most inquiative, ingenious^ and polished of all the savage 
tribes cast of the mountains. They profess great friend- 
ship and admiration for the whites. They asked me innu* 
merable questions; among others, Ihey wished to know the 
number of the whites. Count. I replied, the blades of 
grass upon your immense plains, and you will Itnow pretty 
nearly the number of the whites. They all smiled, saying 
that the tiling was impossilile, but they undcn4ood my 
meaning. And when I explained to them the vast extent 
of the ''villages" inhabited by while men (viz* New Vork, 
[336J Philadelphia, I^nHon, Paris) the grand lodges (houses) 
butll as near each other as the fingers of my hand, and four 
or 6ve piled up. one above the other — (meaning thediffcr- 
enl stories of our dwellings;) when I told them that some 

of these lodges (speaking of churches and towers) mtctc as 
high as mountains, and large enough to contain all the 
Crows to^^ether; that in :he grand lodge of the national 
council (the Capitol at Washington) all the greet chiefs of 
the whole world could smoke the calumet a1 their ease; 
ihal the nxids m the<4e great villages were always filled with 
passengers, who came and went more thickly than the vast 
herds of buffalos that sometimes cover their beautiful plains; 
whoi I ejcplained to them the extraordinaiy rclerity of 
those moving lodges (the cars on the rail road) that leave 
far behind them the swiftest horse, and which arc drawn 
along by frightful machines, whose repeated groanings 
re-echo far and wide, as they belch forth immen^ vohimcs 
of fire and smoke; and next, those fire canoes, (fiteamboats) 
which transport whole villages, with provisions, arms and 
baggage, in a few days, from one country toanothcr, crossing 
lurge lakes, (the :$eas) ascending and descending the gnral 
rivers and streams; when I told them that I had seen white 
men mounting up into the air (in balloons) and Hying with 
aft much agility as the warrior eagle of their mountains, 
then their astonishment was at its height; and all placing 
their hands upon their mouths, sent forth at the same time, 
one general cry of wonder ''The Master of life is great," 
said the chief, "and the white men are Hls favorites.'' But 
what appeared to interest them more than aught else, was 
prayer (religion;) to this subject they listened with the 
strictest, undivided attention. They told me that they had 
already heardof it, and they knew that this prayer made men 
good and wise on ea.rth, and insured [337] their happiness 
in the future life. They begged me to permit the whole 
camp to assemble, Ihat they might hear for themselves the 
words of the Great Spirit, of whom they had been told such 
wonders. Immediately three UnitedStatesflagswereerected 
on the &cld, in the midst of the camp, and three thousand 


1*41-184'] He Smet'j LeUfn and Sketehis 


^vages, iDcIuding the sicic, who were curried m skins, gath- 
ered around me, I knelt beneath the banner of our coun- 
try, my ten Flat Head neophytes by my skie, and surrounded 
by this multitude, eager lo hear the glad tidbgs of the gospel 
of peace. We began by intoning two canticles^ after ^vhich 
I recited all the prayers, which we inierpreted to them: then 
again we sang canticles, and I finished by explaining to them 
the Apostles' CrecH and the ten Commandments. They aJl 
appeared to l>e filled with joy.and decUred it was the happiest 
day of their lives. They begged me 10 have pity on them 
— to remain among them and instruct them and their little 
children in the knowledge, love and scr%'ice of the Great 
Spirit. 1 promised that a Blackgown should visit them, but 
on condition that the chiefs would cnga;;^ ihcmselves to pui 
a stop to the thievish practices so common amongst them, 
and to oppose vigorously the corrupt morals of their tribe. 
Believing me to be endowed with supernatural powers, they 
had entreated me from the very commencement of our con- 
versation, to free them from the sickness that then desolated 
(be camp, and lo supply them with plenty. 1 repeated to 
them on this occasion that the Great Spirit abne could re- 
move these evils — God, I said, listens to the supplications 
of the good and pure of heart ; of those who detest their sins, 
and wish to devote themselvestoHisscrvicc — but lie shuts 
his ears to the prayers of those who violate His holy law. 
In His anger, God had destroyed by fire, five infamous 
"villages'^ (Sodom. Gomorrah, [a^SJctc.) in consequence of 
their horrid abominations — thai the Crows walked in the 
ways of these wicked men, consequently they could not com< 
plain if the Great Spirit seemed to punish them by sickness, 
war and famine. 'ITicy were themselves the authors of all 
their calamities — and if ihey dki not change Iheir mode of 
life very soon, they might expect to see their misfortunes 
increase from day to day — while the most awful torments 


pMrly fFestem Travels 

[Vol. fl7 

avmttrt] them, and all wicked men after their death. I 
4gsured ihem in fine that heaven would be the n^ardof 
those who would repent of their nil deeds and practice the 
rdigion of the Great Sfnril. 

The grund orator of the camp was the first to reply: 
"Black Gown/' said he, '* I understand you. You have said 
what is true- Your words have passed (torn my airs into 
my heart — I wish all could comprehend them." WlwrMiii, 
addressing himself to the Crows, he repeated forciblyj "Yes, 
Crows, the Black Gown has said what is true. We are dogs, 
for we live like dogs. Let us change our lives and our 
children will live/' I then held long conferences with all 
the chiefs assembled in council. I proposed to them the 
example of the Flat Hcads^ and Pcnds-d^orcillcs^ whose 
chiefs made it their duty to exhort their people to the practice 
of virtue, and who knew how to punish as they deserved 
all the prevaricationsaguinst God's holy law. They prom* 
L9ed to follow my advice, and assured me that 1 would Sod 
them in better dispositions on my return. I flatter mj-scU 
with the hope, that this visit, the good example of my neo- 
phytes, but principally the prayers of the Flat Heads will 
gradually produce a favouisblc change among the Crows. 
A good point in their character, and one that inspires mc 
with almost the certainty of their amendment, is, that they 
have hitherto resisted courageously all attempts [3^9] to 
introduce spirituous liquors among them. "For what is 
this fire-water good?" said the chief to a while man who 
tried to bring it into their country^ " it burns the throat and 
stomach; it makesa man likca bear who has lost his senses. 
Hehites» he growls, he scratches and he howh, he falls down 
as if he were dead. Your fire-water does nothing but harm 
— take it to our enemies, and they will kill each other, and 
their wives and children will be worthy of pity. As for as 
we do not want it, we arc foob enough without it," A 

i84t-iM>) Of Smfi'j Lfttfrs anJ Sketches 397 

vtry touching scene occurred during the council- Several 
of the savages wnshed to examine my Missionary Cross; I 
thence took ocatsion to explain to them the sutTcrings of 
our Saviour, Jesus Christ, and the cause of His death on the 
Cross — I then pUicer! my Cross in On? handa of the great 
chief; he kissed it in the most respectful manner; raising 
his eyes to heaven, and pressing the Cross with both his 
hands to his heart, he exclaimed, "O Great Spirit, take pity 
on me and be merciful (o Thy poor children." AimI his 
people followed his example, I was in (he village of the 
Crows when news was brought thai two of their most dis- 
tingui.<Uicd warriors had fallen victims to the mgc and cruelty 
of the Bkck Feel. The lienlds or orators went rrmnd the 
camp, proclaiming in a bud voice the circumstances of the 
combat and the tragic end of the two brave men. A gloomy 
silence prevailed every where, only interrupted by a band 
of mourners, whow appearance alone was enough to make 
the most insensible heart bleed, and rouse to vengeance 
the entire nation. This band was composed of the mothers 
of the two unfortunalc warriors who had fallen, their wives 
carrying tht-ir ntrw bom infants in their arms, their sisters, 
and all their little children^ The unhappy creatures had 
their heads shaven and cut in every direction; they were 
gashed with numerous [a4oJ wounds, whence the blood con- 
stantly trickled. In this pitiable state they rent the air ivith 
their bmentations and cries, imploring the warriors of thdr 
nation to have compassion on them — to have compassion 
on their desolate children — to grant them one last favour^ 
the only cure for their afTliction, and that was, to go at once 
and inflict signal vengeance on the murderers. They led 
by the bridle ail the horses that belonged (o the dcccascd- 
A Crow chief mounting immediately the best of these steeds, 
brandi<»hed his tomahawk in the air, proclaiming that he 
was ready to avenge the deed- Several young men rallied 

tS4'<i^43] De Smet^j Letters and Skrtchei 


plflce. The bloody remains of ten AssimboinSf who had 
been slain, were scattered here and there —almost all the 
flesh eaten off by the wolves and camivcrous birds. At the 
sight of these mangled limbs — of the viilliires that soared 
above our heads, after having satiated themselves with the 
unclean repast, and the region round me, which had so 
bilety resoundvxl with the savage crie-S of more savage men, 
engaged in mutual carnage — I own that the little courage 
I thought 1 possessed, seemed to fail me entirely, and give 
place to a secret terror, which I sought in vain to stifle or 
conceal from my companions. We observed in several 
places the fresh tracks of men and horses, leaving no doubt 
in our minds as to the proximity of hostile parties; oiu: 
guide even assured me that he thought wc were already dis- 
covered, but by continuing our preoLuttons he hoped we 
might perhaps elude their craftiness and malicious designs, 
for the savages very seldom make their attacks ld open day* 
The following is the desoiplion of our regular march until 
the loth of September. At day-break we saddled our horses 
and pursued our journey; at to A. M. we breakfasted in a 
suitable place, that would oSer [241] some advantage in 
case of an attack. After an hour and a half, or two hours' 
rest, we resumed our march a second lime, always trotting 
our horses, until ^unsec^ when we unsaddled chem to dine 
and sup; we then Lighted a good fire, hastily raised a little 
cabin oF branches, to induce our ever watchful foes, in case 
Ihey pursue us, to suppose that we had encamped for the 
night; for, as soon as the inimical videttes discover any thing 
of the kind» they make it known by a signal to the whole 
)ur1y. They then immedijitely assemble, and cDncert the 
plan of attack. In the meantime, favored by the darkness, 
we pursued our journey Cfuietty until lo or 12 o'clock at night, 
and then, without fire or even shelter, each one disposed 
himself as well as he might, for sleep. It appears to me 


Earfy Wtittm Traxris 

tVoL »7 

that I hear you ask: But what did you rat for your hreak- 
hfit at>d supper? Examine the notes of my Journal, and 
you wQ] acknowledge that our fare was such as wotiM ex- 
cite the cDvy of the most fastidious gastronome. From the 
95th of August to the 10th of Septeni1>er, 1842, we killed, to 
supply our w&nt3> as wc journeyed on, three fine buffalo 
cows, and two large bulls; (only to obtain the tongue and 
marrow bones) two large deer, as fat af< wc could hare 
wished ; three goats, two btack-tail deer, a big-horn or moun- 
tain sheep, t^vo fine Rrcy t>cars, and a swan — to say 
nothing of the pheasants, fowls, 5nipcs> ducks and geese. 

In the midsl of so much game, we scarcely fell the want 
of bresid, sugar or coifee. The haunches, tongues and ribs 
replaced these. And the bed P It is soon anianged. We 
were in a country where )t)u lose no time in taking off your 
shoes; your wrap your buffalo robe around you, ihe ^ddte 
serves as a pillow, and thanks to the fatigues of a long jour- 
ney of about forty miles, under a burning sun, you have 
scarcely laid your head upon it before you arc aslcepn [343} 
The geatlemt-n of Fort Union, at the mouth of the Yellow 
Stone, received me with great politeness and kindness- I 
rested there during three days. A journey so long and con- 
tinuous, through regions where the drought had been so 
great that every sign of vegetation had disappeared, had 
very much ejduusted our poor horses. The iSoo mfles 
that we had yet to travel, were not to be undertaken lightly, 
After liaving well considered every thing, I resolved to 
leave my horses at the Fort, and to trust myself to the im- 
petuous waters of the Missouri in a skiff, accompanied by- 
Ignatius and Gabriel. The result was most fortunate, for» 
on the thinj day of our descent, to our great surprise and 
joy, we heard the puffing of a steamboat. It was a real 
God send to us; accordingly, our first thought was to thank 
God, in all the sincerity of our hearts. Wc soon beheld 


i«4i "«4'] De Smfi'j Lttws and SAfUhes 


her nujestiailly ascending the stream. It «^8 the first 
boat that had ever attempted to ascend the river in that sea 
son of the year, laden with merchandijse for the Fur Trade 
Company. Four gentlemen from Ne^^' York, proprietors of 
the boat, invited me to enter and remain on board.''* I 
accepted with unfeigned gratitude their kind offer of hospi- 
tality; the more so, as they assured me tliat scvcni! parties 
of warriore w<ra' lying in ambush along the river. On 
entering the boat I was at object of great curiositj' — my 
blackgown, my missionary cross, my long hair, attracted 
attention. I had thcusinds of questions to answCTj and 
many long stories to relate about my journey. 

I have but a few words to add. The waters were low, 
the sandbanks and snags everywhere numerous; the boat 
consequently encountered many obstade-s in her passage. 
We were frequendy in great danger of perishing. Her 
keel was pierced by pointed rocks^ her sides rent by the 
snags. TNvcnty times the wheels had been broken to [244J 
pieces. The pilot's house had been carrietl away in the 
tempest; the whole cabin would have foUou'ed if it bad 
not been made fast by a large cable. Our boat appeared 
to be little more than a mere wreck, and in this i\Teck, 
after forty-sU days* navigation from the Yellow Stone, we 
arrived safely at St, Louis. 

On the last Sunday of October, at is o'clock, I was 
kneeling at the foot of St. \fary*s Altar, in the Cathedral, 
offering up my thanksgiving to God for the signal protec- 
tion He had extended to his poor, unworthy servant. From 
the beginning of April I had travelled five thousand mQes. 
1 had descended and ascended the dangerous Columbia 
river. I had srcn five of my companions perish in one of 
those life -destroying whirIpx>oU, so justly dreaded by those 
who navigate that stream. I had traversed the Walla- 
mctte^ crossed the Rocky Mountains, passed through the 

402 Earfy WeMtern Travels [VoLa? 

country of the Black Feet, the desert of the Yellow Stone, 
and descended the Missouri; and in all these journeys I 
had not received the slightest injury. "Dominus memor 
hut nostri et benedixit nobis." I recommend myself to 
your good prayers, and have the honor to remain. 
Your very humble and obedient 

son in Jesus Christ, 

R J. De Smet, SJ, 


I, Four thousand years from tlie creation of the world 
to the coining of the Messiah. 1843 years from the birth 
of Jesus Christ to our times, (On the map. each blank 
line represents a century.) Instructum.— 'YheT^ is but one 
God; God is a spirit; He has no body; He is everywhere; 
He hears, sees and understands eveiy thing; He cannot be 
Seen, because he is a spiril. If we air ^ood we shall see 
Him after our death, but the wicked shall never behoU 
Him; He has had no beginning, and will never have an end; 
He is eternal; He docs not grow old; He loves the good, 
whom he recompenses; He hates the wicked, whom he 
punishes- There are three persons in God; each of the 
three is God — they are equal in all things, &c< 

3. The heavens, the earth, Adam and Etc, the tree of 
the knowledge of good and evil, the serpent, the sun, moon. 
Stars, the angels, and hell. Iftsiructi<m.— God is all pow- 
erful; He mode the heavens and caith in six days. The 
first day he created matter, light, the angeU The fidelity 
of some and the revolt of other*. HcIL Thcr second day, 
the firmament, which is called heavens; the third day, the 
seas, plants, and trees of the earth; fourth day, the sun, 
[346] moon, and stars; fifth day, the birds and fi?^e^; sixth 
day, the animabt, Aflam and Eve, the terreslrial paradise, 
and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The seventh 
day was one of rest. A short time after the seventh day, 
the serpent tempted Eve* The fall of Adam, original wn; 
its consequences. Adam driven from Pamdise, the joy of 
the Devil. The promise given of a future Saviour, the Son 

tt lh»*m L) i W ill i II at Oa< t>»M «ft 

MN M/MAf <MnhiJ, tm i t niH t m ^ Wtf dayi aifag the 
Mm Im«« ^r'Mwl flM M*! te. The | i w w< t, ii i iia of 
OlMWilmmlr m fr- '"- Flnt &m of Ho«e>, ikhr 

1841-1943] Dc Srrut's Letters and Sketches 


try oi the people, prayer of Mosw, golden calf, &c- Second 
fast of Moses. Second tables of the law, 40 years in the 
desert, the manngt the water issuing from the rock, the 
brazen serpent. Caleb and J08u&. Moses prays with his 
arms extended. Josua. 'i1ic passage of the Jordan. Fall 
of the walls of Jfcridio. The twelve Trities. Government 
of God by means of Judges for the space of three to four 
hundred years. Josua, Debora, Gideon, Jephte, Samson, 
Hcli, Samuel, Saul, David, Solomon, Roboam. Insiruction. 
*— The kingdom of Israel formed of ten tribes; it subsisted 
for 353 years, under 18 kings. That of Jiida» formed of 
two tribes, subsisted 386 years, under 19 kinfrs, 

10. The Temple of Solomon. Instnutum.—lX was bu3t 
in 7 yeare. Its dedication. What it contained. It was 
bumed about the i6th year of the 54th a^e. It was re- 
built at the end of the captivity. This last building v^as 
very inferior, and it was at last destroyed forty years after 
the death of Jesus Christ. Julian, the apostitc, was in- 
strumental in accomplishing the prediction of our Saviour. 

II- The four great and the twelve minor prophets. 

13. Elias taken up into heaven; will return at the end of 
the world. Eliseus his disciple. Jonas three days in a 
whale's belly. 

[248] 13. The captivity of Babylon. InstfU€tum.— Thx& 
captivity lasted for 70 years. It commenced on the i6th 
of the j4th age, ami lerminaled about 80th of the 35th. 

14. History of Susana, Tobias, Judith, Esther. Kabu- 
chodonozer reduced for the space of 7 years to the condition 
of a brute. The three children in the furnace. 

15. The Old Testament. /iw/fwiwn.-^The history of 
the book of the law, destroyed in the commencement of 
the captivity. Replaced at the end of this time by the 
care of Esdras. Destroyed a^in under the persecution of 

16. The holy man Eleazar. The sc^'cn Macbahees 


Etfr/f fVesUnt Travels 

[Vol »r 

and tbdr mother; Amiochus, St- Joachim, and Sl Anne. 

17. Zacharits, Elizabech, Maiy, Joseph. Tbeappuibon 
of the angd Gabriel lo Zachaius. Birth of St. John the 
Baptist- The angel Gabrid appears to Mary. Mjsterj 
of the Incamatioii of the Word. Fear of Joseph. The 
visitatiDD. Mary and Joseph leave Ux Bethkfaero. Jeru- 
salem is 30 leagues from Naaarcth, Bcthldiem is 2 leagues 
from Jerusalem, Emmaus 3 leases. 

18. Jesus Christ, the ScHi of God, made man iot us. 
The hteory of the Annunciation. 

19. Jesus Christ is bom on Christmas day, at Betbkhcm. 
The history of His Urth; thr angels and shepherds. The 
circumcision at the end of eight days. The name of Jesu& 

so- The star of Jesus Christ seen in the East, predicted 
by Balaam. 

21. The three kings {\(agi.) Gaspard, Balthazar and 
Melchior, having seen the star, come 10 adore the in^t 
Jcmis* Insifuclum,— The star disappears, llic Magi visit 
Herod. King Hcrtxl consults the priests. They point out 
Bethlehem. The star rc-appcars. The [^49] adoratitHi 
and presents <A the \Iagj tweh-e days after our Saviour's 

21. ITerod wishes to kill the inFanf Jesus. Herod'fi fears; 
his hypocrisy; his recommendation to the Magi. 

33. An angd orders the three kings not to return by 
Herod's dominions, but b>' another road. The infant 
Jesus \s carried to the temple of Jerusalem forty days aftcr 
his birth. The holy man Simeon, and the holy widow Anne 
acknowledge Him as God* This fact comes to Herod's 
cars; his anger; his strange resolution with regard to the 
children of Bctlilehrm, where he thought the infant Jesus 
had returned- 

34. An angel orders Joseph to fly into Egypt with the 
infant Jesus and Mary his mother. Instruction. — What 

t34i'if^4'] De Smft's Lettfrs and Sketches 

happened Ihc night afler ihe presentation in the Temple. 
By the command of Herod all the little children in the town 
and environs of Bethlehem are put to death. 

26. He falls sick and dies at the end of a month, devoured 
by worms, (Croisd, 18 voL pngc ij.) 

27, An angel orders St. Joseph Co c^rry the in&nt Jesus, 
and Mar}' his mother, baclc into their own countiyp They 
return to Nazareth. 

28- Jesus, Mary and Joseph, go up every year to the 
temple to celebrate the Passover. 

39- Mary and Joseph lose the infant Jesus at the age of 
twelve years, and find him at the end of three days, in the 
temple, in the midst of the doctors of the law. Instruction. 
— Fear of Joseph and Mary. Words of his mother. An- 
sver of Jesus- 

30- Jesus Christ dwelt visibly on earth for more than 
33 years. 

31. He taught men the manner of living holfly. He [250] 
gave them the example, and obtained for them the grace to 
follow it, by his sufferings and death. 

3a. St. John baptizes Jesus Christ. Instruction, — The 
birth of the precursor; his life and fasting; his disciples. 
He declares he is not the Messiah. He points Him out as 
the Lamb of God> His death. The heavens open at the 
baptism of Jesus Christ. The Holy Ghost descends. The 
Eternal Father speaks. Jesus Christ goes into the desert. 
He tasted for forty days. He is tempted by the devil. The 
preaching of Christ during three years. His life, >Iis doc- 
trine. His miniclcs. 

33< The twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ — Peter, Andrew, 
James. John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, 
James, Judc, Simon, Judas, 

34- St. Peter, the chief of Ihe Apostles, the Vicar of Jesus 
Christ on earth, and the first Pope. 


Early IVtUtm Travels 

(Vol- 17 

35. Th« Apostles the first Bishops. 
7f>. Juda^ sells his master for thirty pieces of money. 
Halrerl of the Jews. The irea^n of JucljUv 

37, Mount Calvarj-, The cross of Jesus Christ. The 
other crosses and the robbers. 

38. Jesus Chmt died on Good Friday. Hislor)' of the 
Passjon of Jesus Christ. CrudfiCTl at 13 o'clock and died 
at 3. Darkness over the earth. Miracles. Repentance of 
the executioners. His soul descends into bcU. His body 
is cmhalmwi and laid in the sepulchre, and giurdcd by 
Ronmn soldicni. 

3Q. Jesus Christ rise* from the dead on Ea5tcr day. 
History of the Resurrection, He appears to Maiy, to St* 
Peter, to the hm di^iples going to Emmaus, to the Apos- 
tles. Incredulity of St. Thomas. Christ's apparition eight 
days after^ Then also at the lake of Tiberias. The [251] 
confession of St. Peter. The mission of the Aposiles- 

40^ Jesus Christ ascends into heaven on Asicension day, 
40 days after Ilis resurrection. He sends the Holy Ghost 
to His Church 10 days after His ascension* Wonders and 
inystcricA of the day, 

41. He will return to the earth at the end of the world for 
the general judgment. 

43. The seven Sacraments, inatitutcd by our Lord Jesus 
Christ for our ranctificztion. The three Sacraments that 
can be received but once. The five Sacraments of the living. 
The two of the dead. 

43' Prayer in order to obtain the assistance of the grace 
of God. St. Paul and St. Matthias. 

44. Our duties for every day, every week, every month, 
every year. 

45. The sut Commandments of the C^hurch- 

46. The Church of Constantinc the great. 
4;. The cross of Jesus Christ found on Calvary by St- 

Helen, after having sought it for three ycars^ 'i^he miracu- 


i«4>-t84»! Of Smff's Letttrs axid SkeUhes 

lous cross of ConsUntine. The invcnlion of tlic Holy Cross, 
The cross carried by Heraclius in the seventh century, 
Julian the Apostaie^ 

48. The New Testament* The arrangement of the 
Canon. The dtsciptine otdaineri by the Council of Nice, 

50- St- Augustine converts the Enf^llsh and teaches them 
the religion of Christ or the Catholic religion, 

51. The English follow the religion of Christy or the 
Catholic religion, for 900 years. 

53, Luther, Calvin, Henry VIIL wander from the way 
of Christ, reject His religion, that is, the Catholic church* 
The by-road and its forks represent the Reformation, with 
its divisions or variations for ihe last 300 years. The 
straight raid of Jesus Christ existed a long time before. [252] 
Lucifer or Satan, the first to lake a wrong road — he seduces 
Adam and Eve and their descendants to accompany him, 
Jesus Christ comes to conduct us into the right road, and 
enable us to keep it by the grace of redemption. The devil 
is enraged at the loss he suffers; but he succeeded In the 
folbwing ages, by inducing men to vralk in a new, bad road, 
that of the pretended Rrformation. 

53, Arius^ Macedonius, Peiagius, Nestorius, Eutychcs, 

54. Mahomet. Iconoclasts, Bcrcnger, Albigcnscs, rhotius, 

55. The four ^reat schisms — of the Donatists, the 
Greeks, the West, and of England, 

56, Luther, Calvin, Henry VHI. 
57- Baius, Janscnius, Wesley. 

58. The sacred phalanx of the (Ecumenical councils. 

59. The priests came into the Indian country to teach the 
Indians the right road or the religion of Jesus Christ, to make 
them the children of the Catholic church- 

60. History of the Catholic missions now flourishing 
throughout the world. 

- 1 1 

Historical Publications 


The Arthur H. Clark Company 

Full descriptive circulars will be mailed 
on flpplicadoD 

JOURNAL: 1849-1850 

Bdng the MS, record of a trip from New York to 

Tcxas^aiid anoverkind journey through Mexico 

and Arizona to the gold-fieldi of California 



With biographiciil memoir by his daughter 




Pvofeuof of Americ4D Hutarr.Univcrutj' of Kiami 
}Fitft folded map^ portrait, and original dra^ngi 

pHN W. AUDUBON, son of the ftmo. 
ormthotogistr was a member of Colonel 
Webb's California Kxpcdition which 
Gtarted from New York Cit)* for the gold- 
fields in Februarv, 1849, The journal 
coziHiftU of Circful notrt which Audubon 
m&de en route. It wats written with a view 
Co publication, acconipanied by a series of sketches made 
at intervals during the journey; but owing to Audubon's 
preH^ccupation with other ailair^, the plan of publication 
was never realized. 

The Journal is, therefore^ here published (or the first 
time, and is illustrated by the author's original skctchcft* 
care^lly reproduced- It gives a viind first-hand picture 
of the difficulties of an overland journey to California, and 
of the excitements, dangers, and privations of life in tlie 


and he nrvcr omits the opportunity to makr franlc and 
pointed comment on society, manncr^p and morah, is well 
as cardul observations of the face of the country and ot 
industrial conditions. The style is Quite unaffected and 
has much natural charm and sprightliness; and the fact 
th;it he wrote anonymously made nim much more free in 
his comments on contemporary society than would other- 
wise have be«n posE^ible. 

LQjsjy^ j^j^ l^hese journeys also gave him unexampled 
FIONCIA opporturiries for contact with the pionecrt 

"**^^*^'^ of the Middle West, and his journal is con- 

sequently rich in personalia of early settlers, remarks on 
contemporary history and politics, state of trade, agncuU 
ture J prices, and information on local history not obrain- 
ftblc elsrwhere. He also visited the larger cities and gives 
very interesting accounts of PittsbuJ^ and Cindnnati» ac- 
companied by original sketches and plans. In Kentucky 
he had the opportunity to study slavery; and although a: 
firs: prcjvidiccd against this institution he finally reached 
the conclusion that the slave slates offered better dianocs 
of successful settlement than the free states. 
VALUE FOR The publication of Fordham's Narraiivt 
RXADEits AND With intToducdon, extensive annotatiom, 
STUDKWTS andirjdcxt)y Professor Frederic 

of the best authorities on the history of the Mississippi 
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new and important material, besides giving the general 
reader a book of vital and absorbing interest. 

Printed direct from type on Dickinson's dccklc-cdgcd 
papcr» and illustrated with original sketches and plans, in 
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Price ^3.00 net. 

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Travels in Virginia^ 3Iarylandj 
T^ennsyhaniay OhiOy Indiana ^ 
K^tucky; and of a Residence in 
the Illinois Territory: i8ij-i8j8 



With facsimiles of the aathor's sketches and plans 

Ediiaj wiih Ffoici, rncrodunion, Iiiilex,Mc., by 


^uthBT 9/ ^ Tht Oprnxng 9/ thf ^fhtistippi" 

AN UNfV** 

This hitherto unpublished MS., which is a 
real litcriry and ntstonca] find, was written 
ill 1817-18 by A young Knglishman of excellent education 
who iflsisted Morris Bir^beck in establishing his IlJJDob 
settlement. The author writes anonymously, but by a 
careful study of various allusions in the Narraiivi tnd 
from information furnished by the family in posscsston 
of the MS-, has been identified as Bliaa Pym Fordham. 
Landing at Baltimore, he reached the West by way of 
I'hiladeTphia, Pittsburg, and the Ohio River to Cineiitnad» 
describing the people and the country as he went along. 
THBIflDDUt Fordham was an especially we ll-qual tiled 
WESTIN l»ir observer of the Middle West because of 
the numerous journey* he undertook, on Urd-hunting 
trips for new emigrants, in the service of Mr. Birkbeck. 
These journeys led him into Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky; 

jfrjurHomrroF rni highest iMFORtdscr*- 





M I s 5 r 5 1 p p ii 

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THIS rxm^dingly rxn watk was issued in London, in i JJO-, and 
hAab«ct) »o much in demand t>y hi^ioritd^tudcnuand cojlcctoi^ 
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iinpo»iiiblc to obtain aE aoif pncc. Our icxc li ffoin a pcifcct cupy of 
the original with ail ibv folding mapi and ptani carefuily reproduced. 

'Only two copic* hare bmoff«nd fur n)cdini;itthv rvfifivf jvarii ta^e fop^ tal4 
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lil J 




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In order that others nuy uae thb book* 
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